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As any parent of a toddler could tell you, it can feel like your child is literally climbing the walls some days. As much as this may drive you crazy, it’s actually a natural part of your child’s development to show interest in climbing and taking risks.
Dr. Maria Montessori wrote about “sensitive periods” in children’s development, a window of time for a child where experiences are especially effective on brain development. Many of these sensitive periods include testing their limits physically. You see this happening in early toddlerhood when all they want to do is climb up and down the stairs, as well as in adolescence when the monkey bars are all the rage.
In following suit with other parts of the Montessori philosophy, providing your child the proper space and materials during these periods will aid in their development—and take some of the work off of your hands. Although Dr. Montessori herself didn’t design or endorse any specific toddler climbing toys, many have come on the market over the years. Having toys that are designed specifically for climbing in your home or yard (or Montessori playroom!) will allow your child to safely develop these important skills, and hopefully take some of the wear and tear off your furniture.
Here are seven Montessori climbing toys, including indoor and outdoor toys to make your child’s interest in climbing safe and enjoyable for all!
In recent years the Pikler triangle (named for its developer Dr. Emmi Pikler) has become a staple in homes and classrooms around the world. Developed as a tool to help improve motor development skills, to forge independent activity and to allow freedom of movement, the triangle is a hit across age groups. There are a variety of accessories that can be added on to the Pikler to make for even more climbing fun. (Like the Piccalio version which comes with a reversible rock wall/slide ramp that busy toddlers love!)
Play couches hardly need an introduction anymore. From the cult-loved Nugget to an endless stream of Nugget dupes, this popular piece has won the hearts of many kids and parents alike in its short time on the market. However, with more customization and optional waterproof liners, we’d choose the Figgy over the Nugget. The simple design of six foam pieces—four base cushions and two triangle pillows—can be configured in dozens of ways for indoor imaginative play, and doubles as additional child-sized seating. While both offer a similar foot print, the fact Figgy’s cushions are all separate gives kids more building flexibility. When they do want them to stay together, strong velcro keeps them in place. What’s more, wedge pieces and extra rectangles can be purchased separately to expand their building options.
This climbing dome has multiple five-star reviews, and will likely bring back joyful childhood memories for you as your child climbs, swings, and jumps from this structure. Although this requires a good amount of space in a yard—it is 10 feet in diameter and 5 feet high—reviewers say it has replaced large play structures in their yard and gets just as much use. The climbing activities this lends to can help improve a child’s spatial awareness, sense of balance and motor skills—you may even find that the interior of the dome makes for a great playhouse too!
A climbing play tower can be found in almost any Montessori toddler classroom, and there is a good reason why. Having the opportunity to climb, slide, or practice balancing with materials designed for this, allows the child to independently meet their needs. This versatile tower is the right size for a young child to safely explore gross motor movement indoors, and this model also features a chalkboard for drawing and doubles as a learning tower to use in the kitchen.
This indoor climbing structure is designed to begin use as young as six months and can be configured to grow with your child from there. Three foam pieces can be arranged into stairs, a tunnel and a slide, allowing your child to practice motor and balance skills. The pieces are easy to clean and Green Guard (gold) certified.
Designed for kiddos ages 3-8, this climbing dome gives them thrills without giving you a heart attack. It’s made from interlocking plastic tubes and connectors which are super durable but also lightweight for easy relocation around the yard or inside when the weather cools.
With a variety of climbing challenges like ropes, sturdy rungs and hanging ladders as well as a climbing wall, slide and monkey bars, this 6-in-1 Jungle Gym entertains kids through many ages and stages. The engaging design is geared toward ages 18 months to 6 years, but depending on their size, could easily last until they’re seven or eight. The 300 pound weight limit allows multiple kids to comfortably play at once. We also love that it’s sustainably made in the USA and boasts as super helpful customer service if you need help with assembly.