Emmi Pikler

Emmi Pikler was born in Vienna in 1902. She studied medicine and then worked in her private practice as a pediatrician in Budapest. She was passionate about helping parents create conditions that children needed to develop in a physically and mentally healthy way.

Emmi Pikler


After the war, in 1946, she founded the infant home in Loczy Street in Budapest, which she directed until 1979. There she was able to deepen the experience she had gained in families and to conduct scientific research. Her pedagogy has three basic pillars: free movement development, free play and relational care (see below). The traumatized babies and toddlers were able to grow up healthy without hospitalization thanks to the attentive care and good conditions. The Pikler Institute developed under the direction of Emmi Pikler into an internationally known methodological institute.

Emmi Pikler died in 1984 and her daughter Anna Tardos ran the home after her death and continued the research work. The home was closed in 2011. Today, the Loczy is home to three nursery groups and playrooms. In addition, the Pikler Institute Budapest enjoys great popularity for its numerous international trainings.


Free movement development

Children who are allowed to develop freely, i.e. without adult intervention, from lying down to walking, develop a very good sense of their bodies, their limits, their need for activity and rest. Their movements are safe, they are mobile and can always return to a resting position from positions that are still strenuous or unpracticed (e.g.: from just learned sitting back to lying down). This gives them security and an independence that ensures that they are not constantly dependent on an adult who puts toys in their hands, sits them down or walks with them by hand.


Free movement development is encouraged in a separate movement room. Here, the children can try out certain movement sequences and thus also experience self-efficacy. Our task is to adapt the environment in everyday life to the children's play and movement needs. For this reason, all nurseries should have integrated platforms, inclined planes and crawling possibilities, and in the diaper-changing room a separate staircase leads up to the changing table for the children. The dressing rooms, chairs and tables should be adapted so that the children can always sit down, get dressed, etc. themselves. This is because Emmi Pikler states that "interference by adults in the free movement development of the infant is actually detrimental to motor development".


"In the course of his movement development, the infant learns not only to turn onto his stomach, not only to roll, crawl, sit, stand or walk, but he also learns to learn. He learns to occupy himself with something independently, to find interest in something, to try, to eperiment. He learns to overcome difficulties. He learns the joy and satisfaction that success - the result of his patient, independent perseverance - brings him."

Emmi Pikler

Free play

In free play, we as parents do not "play" with the child. It can become active itself, but also rest again. In free play, we do not have any expectations of the child and we do not show the child anything. We do not improve it and there is no goal that the child has to reach. 

The child is free to follow his or her own interests and inner rhythm. We offer him open play material. This is simple material (e.g. cups, balls, buckets, shovels, rings, cans, etc.) that constantly offers new possibilities and can be used in many different ways. It has no didactic goal and is not electronic. It allows young children to explore material properties, physical laws and develop dexterity and spatial imagination. No limits are placed on their imagination.


This pedagogically valuable wooden toy was made famous by the Hungarian pediatrician and is particularly characteristic by its shape. The Emmi Pikler triangle offers the smallest children the possibility to discover themselves playfully and to develop motor skills. In the following article we would like to explain to you what an Emmi Pikler triangle is, for whom it is suitable and how to set it up correctly.


"It is essential that the child discovers as many things as possible on his own. If we help him solve all the tasks, we deprive him of the very thing that is most important for his spiritual development. A child who achieves something through independent experimentation acquires a very different knowledge than one who is offered the solution ready-made."

– Emmi Pikler


Relational care

Perhaps the most important cornerstone of Pikler pedagogy is mindful nurturing. This is because free play is not possible without emotional saturation. Relational care involves respecting the person from the day he or she is born. We perceive the infant as a full human being, verbally prepare him for what is to come, wait for his readiness, pay attention to his signals and do not exceed his limits. During the care the child discovers who he is and his effectiveness on others.


No matter which climbing triangle you finally choose, it is in any case a longer investment and worthwhile. Already directly after birth you can buy a Pikler triangle. This way children from 10 months and until they are 6 years old can playfully train their motor skills, agility and flexibility. They can let off steam on their own indoor climbing playground or later build small hiding places and caves. 

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