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The lowdown on rockers and gliders
Rocking chairs have been a nursery essential for generations because babies find the back-and-forth motion soothing and sleep-inducing. They’re also a comfortable place to cuddle, feed, and read to a child.
Today’s rockers have plenty of padding and often come with an ottoman for resting your feet. Some super-stylish versions look more like a cushy living-room chair.
Gliders come in a variety of styles, from traditional to sleek and modern. Instead of rocking, they slide back and forth on a fixed track. The motion requires almost no effort, which is particularly nice when you’re too tired to rock.
Rockers and gliders are often pricey, but will be part of your house for many years.
Browse dozens of gliders and rockers.
What to look for when buying
Comfort: Your rocker should offer plenty of back and head support, give you room to change position easily, and be the right size for your body. You'll want your feet to reach the floor at an angle that feels good. Pockets to hold baby gear like burp cloths are in handy, and can hold your phone, TV remote, or magazines down the road.
Wide padded armrests: Your arms will need plenty of support as you hold your child or it will get uncomfortable. If you'll be using a nursing pillow, check that it comfortably fits over or next to the armrests (consider bringing yours to the store for a test-drive).
Sturdy frame: Since a glider or rocker is an investment, be sure that the frame is solid. Check for sharp edges, exposed moving parts that could pinch fingers, or gaps in the framework that could trap a child.
Easy to clean: Drool, spit-up, and diaper overflow are common in your baby's early months, and kids of all ages can be messy, so a removable, washable seat cover is a plus.
Versatility: Consider how you might use your rocker or glider after your child has outgrown it, and choose the fabric and style accordingly. Some rockers can be converted to stationary chairs with the purchase of separate feet. Or, consider a different kind of comfortable chair that’s not explicitly made for nursery furniture.
Locking mechanism: Some gliders have built-in locks to keep them from moving back and forth; this makes it easier to stand up with a baby in your arms. It also avoids hurt fingers and toes once your little one becomes an active, curious toddler.
Recline: Some gliders recline for greater comfort, which can come in particularly handy when you’re comforting a sick child.
Swivel: Rockers can easily move to face whatever direction you prefer, while gliders are heavier and harder to adjust. If you want a glider but think you'll want to change its positioning, consider a model with a 360-degree swivel.
Matching ottoman: It may come with your rocker or glider, or be sold separately. Using an ottoman made just for your glider works well because it moves with the same motion.
Important safety notes
- Gliders have been recalled in recent years for shoddily constructed bases that break when occupants are rocking; exposed moving parts that could pinch or crush little fingers; and gaps between the chair and base that could trap and strangle a young child.
- Before buying a rocker or glider or using a secondhand one, check product recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Though it's tempting to doze off in the rocker or glider with your baby sleeping on you, use caution. Your baby could slide off you. Plus sleeping with a baby on a soft surface carries a high risk of suffocation and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), warns the AAP.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommended weight limits if given.
What it's going to cost you
You'll pay anywhere from $100 to $800 or more for a glider or rocker. Some high-end models cost up to $2,000. Expect to pay more for better types of wood (oak and maple, for instance) and finishes, fancy fabrics, and modern styling. Ottomans sold separately range in price from $50 to $350.
Some companies sell the frame for the glider or rocker separately from the chair's cushions, and the ottoman frame separately from its cushion. Keep that in mind when determining your budget.