Tips for Choosing a Nursery Glider or Rocking Chair

That chair may look cute, but how do you know you’ll still love it during a 3 a.m. feeding months from now? Look for these key features.
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By Bonnie Vengrow, Contributing Writer
Updated August 13, 2019

Setting up baby’s room isn’t cheap, and chances are, you’re probably a little hesitant to spend more money on a nursery glider or rocking chair. But hang onto your seat, mama—there are good reasons to consider picking up a chair for the nursery. Not only does it give you a comfy place to feed or rock baby to sleep, but its motion may also help cut short a 3 a.m. cry fest. Plus, unlike some other baby products, it’s okay if you buy this one secondhand—just make sure the seat is sturdy (read: all of the parts are in working order), safe (meaning no sharp edges or pinch points where kids can hurt their fingers or toes) and in overall good condition.

The two most common types of nursery chairs are rockers and gliders, and the difference is in the way they move. Rocking chairs rock in an arc, while gliders move forward and backward on a fixed track (some swivel too). Gliders tend to offer a smoother ride; plus, they’re designed not to trap toes underneath, like a rocker can. A matching ottoman is often available, though it usually costs extra.

Ready to start shopping for a nursery glider or rocking chair? Here’s what to look for:

Supportive Cushioning

Above all else, the best nursery gliders and rocking chairs are comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. Look for cushioned arms and a back high enough to support your head, and a seat cushion supported by dense foam or springs. Some options come with a lumbar support pillow, which is an added bonus. If you intend to use the seat as a breastfeeding chair, you can also use that pillow to prop up your arm or baby’s head.

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Comfy but Firm Seat

You definitely want your nursery chair to be comfortable, but make sure the seat isn’t so soft that you sink down into it and can’t easily get back up. After all, when you’ve finally gotten baby to sleep, the last thing you want is to struggle to stand and risk waking up your little one.

Wide Seat

Whether you’re feeding or soothing baby, you’ll want some extra room to move around and get comfortable. This is particularly true if you’re on the hunt for a breastfeeding chair, since you’ll probably try a variety of breastfeeding positions before settling on the one or two that feel best for you and baby. It’s also smart to try out the chair with your nursing pillow on your lap to make sure it fits (sometimes the chair arms are too high or the seat too narrow). Plus, a wider seat means your nursery chair can keep pace with your growing child—because before you know it, you’ll be reading bedtime stories to a preschooler.

Durable Fabric

Your nursery chair will see its fair share of spit-up and spills, so make sure the upholstery is up to the task. Look for a woven fabric that won’t fray and is easy to clean (bonus points if it’s machine-washable). If it works with your nursery design, stick to dark colors that will camouflage stains more easily.

Locking Mechanism

Many nursery gliders come with this helpful feature, which prevents the chair from moving when you don’t want it to. This really comes in handy when you’re hoisting your sleep-deprived self and a sleeping baby out of the seat.

Bonus Features

A lot of nursery gliders and rocking chairs have added features built in for your comfort, so think about how you’ll be using the chair and what nice-to-haves will really be valuable to you. For example, many gliders also offer a 360-degree swivel function, meaning you can rotate the chair in all directions. Others recline back with a pop-up footrest. (If you go with a recliner, remember that as tempting as it may be, it’s a big safety no-no to doze off while holding baby, since they could slip out of your arms. And make sure there’s nothing underneath your footrest before you kick it back down.) You can even find nursery gliders with USB ports to charge your phone while you cuddle with baby.


If you’re going to invest in a nursery glider or rocking chair, make sure you’ll get good mileage out of it. Read over the warranty. Find out how long it’s for and what it covers. Finally, ask yourself how the chair will look in five or 10 years from now when baby’s room is no longer a nursery. Would it look just as good in an older child’s room, or even your living room or guest room? Now that’s getting serious bang for your buck.

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