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What is a Glider Rocker?

By Lynne William
Updated May 16, 2024
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A glider rocker is a chair that is a unique hybrid of a classic rocking chair and an old-fashioned porch glider. These chairs, which became popular among mothers with newborn infants in the mid-1980s, are typically constructed of wood. The seat, back, and arms of the chair are usually covered with tie-on, removable cushions. Due to their popularity with new mothers, the glider rocker has also become commonly known as the "nursery glider."

Steel ball bearings that are completely enclosed provide a smooth, effortless, safe gliding motion that many infants and their parents find pleasing and soothing. Because there is no weight re-distribution during the gliding motion like there is when using a traditional rocking chair, a glider rocker is also much quieter and much more stable. Traditional rockers rely on the up-and-down motion of the opposite ends of skids on either side of the rocker, which can injure and possibly even crush little fingers once the baby becomes a crawler. The glider mechanism is much safer in this regard.

In addition, a glider rocker is nearly impossible to tip over. It can't be rocked back too far like a traditional rocker, and because the side skids of a glider rocker are immobile, it's virtually tip-proof sideways as well. Many manufacturers equip their chairs with factory-installed locking mechanisms. This allows the adult to lock the glider in place when the chair is not in use and thus increasing its safety when little ones are afoot.

Glider rockers come in many styles and are constructed of materials to fit a wide range of budgets. For more expensive models, higher-grade hardwoods are used. Pine, walnut, maple, oak, and cherry are popular woods used in the construction of glider rockers. A more expensive chair will also have extra or specialized padding and will be upholstered with more luxurious fabrics.

A glider rocker can have one of several different varieties of bases, such as a rotary swivel base and the more common spindle base. A rotary base allows the chair to swivel a full 360 degrees, whereas a spindle-base glider rocker is confined to back-and-forth motion. Glider rockers are frequently sold with a coordinating ottoman as an option. Pushing a traditional rocker with one's feet propped up can be difficult, but far less effort is required to propel a glider rocker making this position quite comfortable.

Although glider rockers are marketed primarily to new mothers and mothers-to-be, they can be a comfortable, useful, and attractive addition to any home.

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Discussion Comments
By Phaedrus — On Nov 08, 2014

We were one of those families who bought a swivel glider rocker back when they first became popular. My wife did use it in the nursery, but we moved it into the den when our son got older. It's been a great chair overall, but it's been a little tricky finding glider rocker cushions around here. The furniture stores have started phasing out glider rocking chairs and adding more popular recliners and old-fashioned rocking chairs.

I also had to have it repaired when one of the metal struts broke unexpectedly. I'm glad the occupant wasn't hurt at the time, because the entire chair tipped over to one side when it broke. I'd highly recommend an upholstered glider rocker for nursing mothers and older people, but make sure you buy one that looks sturdy.

By Buster29 — On Nov 07, 2014

My mother-in-law had a glider rocker chair in her living room for years, but one of the glider struts broke and we opted to replace it with a recliner. It was actually my favorite chair to sit in, because I could get the benefits of a rocking chair without worrying about running over the cat's tail or banging the back of the chair into the wall.

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