An icon of American culture, the rocking chair has been around since the early part of the 18th century. Initially, the chair was used in outdoor gardens, but eventually made its way indoors. Rocking chairs remain popular today for their soothing motion that can both ease pain and reduce stress.
Today’s versions vary from classic outdoor rockers to more modern gliders and swivel chairs used for comfort and to enhance interior design. The best rocking chair for your home will depend on your preferences for use, style, and comfort. Read on to learn about the types of rockers available and what to look for while shopping.
- BEST OVERALL: Babyletto Kiwi Power Recliner and Swivel Glider
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ComHoma Recliner Chair Massage Rocker
- BEST TRADITIONAL: Loon Peak Greenwood Rocking Chair
- BEST GLIDER: Angel Line Windsor Glider and Ottoman
- BEST WITH OTTOMAN: DaVinci Olive Upholstered Swivel Glider with Ottoman
- BEST FOR NURSERY: Mack & Milo Aisley Reclining Glider
- BEST FOR OUTDOORS: Andover Mills Emjay Rocking Chair
- BEST FOLDING: GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rocking Chair
The best rocking chairs are attractive, durable, and comfortable. As you consider your purchase, you’ll want to first think about how you would like to use your chair, what style will work best with your décor, and your desired comfort level. Learn more about these and other important shopping considerations.
Before you buy, think about how you plan to use your rocker. Rocking chairs can serve many different purposes, from a comfortable spot to read and relax to an outdoor seating option on a porch or even at a campsite (with portable versions). If the purpose of your purchase is to add a design element to your room, your choice likely will differ from what you’d pick if you wanted it for a cushioned spot to soothe your infant.
It’s important to consider who will be using the chair and where you will keep it. You’ll have more flexibility on material choices for indoor options, while for porch rockers, you’ll want to factor in durability and upkeep.
Once you decide how you want to use your chair, consider the various types available:
- Traditional rocking chair: When you think of a rocking chair, this is probably what comes to mind first. The traditional rocker often is a wood chair characterized by curved legs that act as the rocking mechanism. Styles are available for inside and out, and with or without cushions for added comfort.
- Glider rocking chair: A glider’s motion is different from a traditional rocker. It rocks along a flat plane rather than a curved arc, controlled by levers and hinges. Buyers usually select this style for comfort and it is a popular choice in bedrooms and nurseries. This option also might come with an attached or separate footrest or ottoman.
- Spring rocking chair: Mounted springs aid in the rocking motion of this type of chair, offering a bit of additional bounce. This style is common for outdoor options.
- Swivel rocking chair: This type of rocking chair offers both the traditional rocking motion and a swivel mechanism, similar to that of a desk chair. This style is ideal for watching older children while rocking an infant or turning toward others in a conversation area.
- Reclining rocking chair: A reclining rocker allows users to adjust the seat back to their desired position. This is common with gliders, and for safety purposes, these chairs will feature a catch to disable the rocker while reclining.
Just as there are multiple types of rocking chairs, there are various styles as well. The one you choose should coordinate with your existing décor. For instance, if your home is modern, skip traditional rockers and opt for choices with straight lines and modular cushions. If you love vintage style, consider antique rocker styles in either wood or wicker.
For comfort, especially in nurseries, you might want an upholstered rocker or glider. These also come in a variety of styles and shapes to suit your preferences. For outdoor selections, choose ones that will coordinate with your home’s exterior style.
When thinking of traditional rocking chairs, wood versions often come to mind. Still popular today, wood options vary depending on where a chair will go in a home. Indoor rockers offer more flexibility when it comes to materials. Softwoods like pine and cedar will work just fine indoors, but for outdoor selections, hardwoods like teak and oak will fare better. Wood wicker will survive inside, but for your porch chair, opt for plastic all-weather wicker.
For upholstered rocking chairs, consider comfort and stain resistance. Cotton versions are popular for their soft feel and tough construction, but they can be more susceptible to stains. Synthetic upholstery fabrics, most often made of polyester, have the advantage of being made to resist wear and tear.
Comfort and Support
A rocking chair can offer a soothing spot to reduce stress for adults and babies alike. Modern rockers, especially upholstered ones, are generally comfortable, and the style you choose will depend on your preferences. If you like a supportive seat, opt for wood options or those with firm cushions. If you prefer to sink into your chair, look for upholstered selections made with foam padding.
For traditional wood options, adding cushions and pillows will help soften the seat. A lumbar pillow can also provide additional back support.
You’ll also want to think about the amount of rocking you prefer and how much work it takes. A glider is a good option for those who like a gentler motion with very little effort.
If you’re looking for a chair to rock your little one, consider one with a locking mechanism. Some rocking chairs can be locked in place, which makes it easier for you to stand up while holding a baby and prevents fingers from getting caught once little ones are crawling around. Locking the chair in place also can make it easier and safer for seniors and those with limited mobility to get up from a seated position.
This mechanism also comes in handy with chairs that recline. Users can stop the rocking motion when they want to adjust their seat back.
Not all rocking chairs are created equal when it comes to weight capacity, so it’s important to check limits before making a purchase. Most standard rockers can support 200 to 300 pounds, while the heaviest duty options can hold up to 500 pounds or more. These selections are made with strong materials and joints that will hold nearly any size of user and likely will last longer. These durable chairs might have frames made from reinforced wood, synthetic plastic resin and faux wood, or more rarely, metal. Less sturdy rockers might creak or bend under pressure.
Some rocking chairs are made to stay in a specific spot, but others can be taken along on travel adventures. Even though John F. Kennedy himself was known to take his wood rocker on Air Force One, today there are better alternatives when it comes to portability.
Best for camping or outdoor events, portable rocking chairs are basically rocking lawn chairs with arched legs. Look for sturdy versions made with steel frames and synthetic weather-resistant surfaces. They vary in comfort, but mesh and padded options should offer ample support. These portable options will fold up to transport easily to your desired location. A carrying case is an added bonus.
Our Top Picks
If you are looking to soothe your baby to sleep or just want to comfortably rock by a campfire, the best rocking chairs offer relaxation, style, and comfort. When planning your purchase, consider one of these seats with standout features.
Though the Babyletto Kiwi Electronic Recliner and Swivel Glider is made by a nursery brand, it can certainly complement other rooms with its modern wingback design. The chair’s control panel is hidden in the armrest to maintain the streamlined look. A quiet reclining mechanism lowers the headrest and raises the footrest to the user’s desired position for comfort. The swivel allows for a 270-degree rotation while a gliding motion moves the chair forward and back. The control panel includes a built-in USB port for added convenience.
The upholstery is a linen and polyester blend and is free of chemical retardants. A lumbar cushion adds to the rocker’s comfort. The company recommends a light foam cleaner for removing spots. The chair has a weight limit of 300 pounds.
The ComHoma Recliner Chair Massage Rocker does a lot more than just rock. With an 8-point massage system, four vibrating modes, and a seat heater, it takes stress relief to the next level. Plenty of cushioning and lumbar support, along with an attached footrest, offer added comfort features.
The push-back recliner mechanism requires the use of your body weight to recline the chair, while a swivel feature provides a 360-degree rotation. A drink holder and a side storage pocket can keep necessary items close by. The faux leather comes in either brown or black and wipes clean easily. For a rocker that does much more than rock, this one comes at an affordable price point.
The detailed spindle design and floral accent on the Greenwood Rocking Chair by Loon Peak can work well for those seeking an antique or cottage look with modern craftsmanship, and at an affordable price point. Made from rubberwood, a medium-density tropical hardwood, the chair features a rich brown color with an oak finish.
The traditional arched legs allow for a gentle rocking motion. The weight capacity of this chair is 250 pounds, and it will require assembly upon arrival. It can rock adults and their infants indoors or on a covered porch.
The Windsor Glider and Ottoman’s spacious seat offers plenty of room to soothe a baby to sleep. For comfort, generous padding extends from the seat to the arms and an included gliding ottoman provides a spot to put your feet up.
The polyester cushions are available in 18 colors and can be removed for easy spot cleaning, however machine washing is not advised. A solid wood frame offers stability for a weight capacity of 210 pounds. There is no locking mechanism with this option, so don’t leave little ones by the chair unattended.
The DaVinci Olive Upholstered Swivel Glider with Ottoman is well suited for a nursery, but would also be nice in a comfortable bedroom seating area. The chair both glides and swivels in a 360-degree motion so you can comfortably rock while keeping an eye on what’s going on around you. A high back, cushioned headrest, and lumbar pillow offer a comfortable spot to relax or rock your little one.
The product is available in five colors, as well as with or without piping, so the polyester fabric can coordinate to match a room. Greenguard Gold Certified, the upholstery is made without the use of harmful chemicals. The weight capacity is 300 pounds.
The Mack & Milo Aisley Reclining Glider is a multifunction rocker, including a rotating swivel function, a smooth gliding motion, and a reclining mechanism. The hidden easy-pull reclining controls can be pulled out and tucked back in between the seat and armrest when not in use. When using the reclining feature, the rocker automatically locks for safety.
The seat offers a soft spring core foam interior for a cushioned surface. For added comfort, a footrest can be used along with the recliner. The square silhouette will suit both modern and traditional spaces, and is available in two neutral colors. This rocker has a weight capacity of 225 pounds.
Featuring a classic rocking chair silhouette, Emjay Rocking Chair from Andover Mills offers a traditional wood rocker for porches and other outdoor settings. Crafted from poplar with a glossy oak finish, it is both weather and water resistant for year-round wear. The chair is available in six colors including bright red and neutral gray.
The sturdy frame has a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds. The rocking chair does not include cushions, so add your own for additional comfort. For cleaning, dust with a soft cloth and clean with a damp sponge or soft brush.
Designed with a patented Spring-Action Rocking Technology, the GCI Outdoor Freestyle Portable Rocker is made to rock on patios, dirt, grass, and other outdoor terrains. The company’s Eazy-Fold technology can help make opening and closing the chair simple and safe. The rocker includes a carrying handle for added convenience.
A mesh backrest and padded armrests offer a comfortable seat, complete with a built-in beverage holder. A sturdy powder-coated steel frame can support up to 250 pounds. This chair is available in two colors.
FAQs About Your New Rocking Chair
Perhaps you’re still wondering how rocking chairs work and whether they’re good for you. Read on for answers to these and other common questions about rocking chairs.
Q. How does a rocking chair work?
Rocking mechanisms differ depending on the type of chair. For traditional rocking chairs, arched legs touch the ground at two points to facilitate the rocking motion. For gliders, the chair will move back and forth on a straight plane for a forward and backward motion.
Q. What is a rocking chair used for?
A rocking chair’s soothing motion makes it a popular choice for relaxation both indoors and out. It is also often used as a calming spot to comfort a baby or lull infants to sleep.
Q. What should I look for in a rocking chair?
The best rocking chair for your home will depend on your needs and preferences, but in general, it should match your decor, provide comfort, and be constructed with durable materials.
Q. Is rocking in a rocking chair good for you?
Studies show that rocking chairs can be good for both your physical and mental health. They can ease back pain, have been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and can aid in recovery from injuries and surgery.
Q. Are rocking chairs dangerous?
There are some dangers associated with rocking chairs, generally for babies and the elderly. For little ones there is a danger of squishing fingers or tipping over when trying to climb up. For older and less stable adults, getting up can sometimes pose a problem. Both a sturdy frame and locking mechanism will help to prevent these injuries. Also, be sure to cover the rocking mechanisms on gliders to avoid little fingers getting hurt.