The rocking chair tends to be associated with the extreme ends of the age spectrum. You either expect to see it in your Grandmother’s house, possibly covered in several throw cushions and a crochet blanket. Or, it’s something from a nursery, designed with the aim of settling a baby to sleep.
A rocking chair is rarely the first choice for a modern living room. Even if you like the motion, the term “rocking chair” tends to conjure up images of creaking wood and fussy design. And while the mental and physical benefits of a rocking chair might be well documented, it’s hard to shake a bad reputation.
But the rocking chair has adapted. From contemporary minimalism to traditional carving, there’s now a rocking chair to suit every home. We’ve put together a list of the most comfortable, attractive, and overall fantastic rocking chairs available, to soothe and relax.
Best for Reading
Best for Nursery
With a heavy wooden base and chic, simplified cushions, this attractive rocking chair will look fantastic in any room in the house.
Whether you want a contemporary design for a minimal interior, or a chair that works with rustic decorations, the Baxton Studio rocker is sure to be a great choice.
The elongated backrest design is what gives the rocker it’s very modern look. Simple and elegant, it can easily blend in with any space, from living room to nursery. You can even try it in a home office.
The sleek finish can match interiors, and also looks fantastic when decorated with cushions and blankets. Use it as an accent chair, and enjoy curling up with a long book.
But it isn’t just about looking good. The cushion is contoured to provide extra support, and increase comfort. Add a throw cushion for some extra softness, and you can sit for long periods without getting aches. The high back gives you a place to rest your head, even for taller people.
Wooden rockers are heavy and sturdy, giving this chair a smooth rocking motion. It’s a gentle movement, ideal for those who prefer an easy swing. There is some travel - the term for when the chair moves as it rocks - but this can be stopped with the use of a rug.
A modern design with classic features, this is a chair that’s welcome in any home.
- Simple shape - The unfussy design will look beautiful with a range of interiors.
- Ergonomic arm height - Eases sitting, reducing strain on the body and helping you to relax.
- Gentle rocking motion - Relaxing, without too much swing.
- Poor assembly instructions - Easy to build, but only once you’ve figured out the instructions.
Best for Reading
A good book on a rainy day is the perfect way to pass an afternoon - unless you find yourself squirming around on an uncomfortable seat. With the Avawing upholstered rocking chair, you won’t have that problem.
The high backrest and sponge cushioning work together to ensure that you’ll be comfy all the way from page one to the epilogue.
The wide and high back forms the bulk of this low design, which is easy to get in and out of.
For older people, or those who suffer with back pain, the spacious design aids movement. But despite the wider frame, the streamlined arms and overall simplicity stop the chair from becoming bulky. Instead, it can fit into any living room or bedroom.
Sponge cushions are used across the base and backrest, providing bounce and elasticity. This means the chair moves with you, responding to where your weight rests. Over a long seated period, your chair will continue to provide support.
The design of the chair elegantly blends mid-century retro with modern. A classic appearance, the long lines of the cushion enhance the natural shape, and soften the look. The only downside is that no one will get to see it - because you’ll never want to get up.
- High backrest - The entire back is supported, reducing waist fatigue.
- Curved armrests - An ergonomic design that feels extra comfortable.
- Angled base - The curve of the rocker is designed for a gentle swing, and is easy to get out of.
- No padding on arms - A cushioned armrest could provide that bit more comfort.
Best for Nursery
A rocking chair is a classic piece of bedroom furniture. A wooden rocker is often used as a design feature, although in a busy nursery it may double up as a climbing frame and laundry basket. But falling asleep on a wooden rocking chair can leave you waking up with aches and pains.
The Dolonm nursery rocking chair combines movement with a soft, cushioned comfort. Any new parent will find this chair helps both baby and adult to fall asleep, thanks to the gentle swing and ergonomic design. As well as looking good, this is a practical item of furniture.
A high backrest is combined with cushioned armrests, giving the user ample space to rest. The comfortable back is perfect for leaning against, allowing you to comfortably rock your baby (and maybe fall asleep yourself).
A slightly harder base cushion gives firm support, but some may prefer to supplement with an added throw cushion.
The rockers themselves are understated, but provide a good level of movement. There’s a natural swing - enough for a baby to enjoy, without excess movement. The simple rockers allow this chair to fit neatly into small nursery corners.
There’s one other great advantage to the Dolonm - the side pocket. This large pocket has enough room to fit all kinds of useful things, and makes for quick and convenient storage.
- Side pockets - Never lose your phone down the side of the cushions again, thanks to a spacious pocket.
- Color range - Find the perfect chair for your space, with various fabric choices.
- High back - Provides support and comfort, particularly useful when rocking a child.
- Harder base cushion - The back is sponge soft, but the seat cushion lacks some give.
Best Classic Design
The gorgeous cherry finish and patterned cushion sets this rocking chair apart. It looks straight from a picture book, with a design that wouldn’t seem out of place in a classic novel.
However, the sturdy construction and comfortable padding gives a modern twist, making this chair a wonderful blend of old and new.
The traditional finish of this ACME rocking chair is perfect for creating a rustic atmosphere. It also looks gorgeous in nurseries, and will feel comfortable as you rock your child to sleep. With a sturdy construction, it’s easy to sit in this chair for hours at a time (although an extra cushion might be useful).
However, be aware of the size. This is a surprisingly large chair, which will struggle to fit into small corners. Shorter people may find legs dangle uncomfortably, and it’s hard to get your feet on the floor.
If the sizing is right, then you can enjoy a controlled movement from the wooden rockers. The slight curve prevents excess swing, while the upright design contributes to a movement you can really feel. Watch out for some slight walk - a rug can prevent too much slipping.
The wooden rocking chair became a design classic for a reason, because it blends comfort and craftsmanship. If you want to create a traditional feel in your home, then this chair is perfect. The solid construction ensures you’ll be enjoying it for years to come.
- Sturdy - It may look like an older chair, but the solid finish shows modern construction.
- Easy assembly - Comes together quickly, with clear instructions.
- Unique design - Traditional, this chair feels like an heirloom.
- Size - A wider seat and increased height makes it harder for shorter people to get comfortable.
Best for Outdoors
Finding the right rocking chair for outdoors can be difficult. It needs to stand up to the weather, be light enough to move, and provide plenty of support for long hours spent enjoying the sunshine. These Best Choice woven rope rocking chairs have mastered all three.
At first glance, the woven design may not seem the strongest construction. However, the wide shape and flexible weave feels amazing as you sink into it, while the high backrest gives stability.
The rockers are wide, giving a firm base for a rock that you can control. A lazy swing that’s ideal for a summer’s day.
The fun design is surprisingly adaptable. Eye catching without being distracting, the natural-style materials complement outdoor spaces well. This set also comes with a table, which is made from a similar woven style as the chairs, and gives you a place to rest your ice-cold lemonade.
When the sun shines, we all want to spend as much time outdoors as we can. With these Best Choice chairs, you can really make the most of a yard or porch. The swinging movement is wonderful for calm days, but the stable design is supportive for working outdoors and making conversation.
- High back - Provides support, reduces fatigue during long hours spent sitting.
- Woven finish - The rope design is comfortable and supportive, while giving a modern edge to the classic rocking chair.
- Corner rockers - Stable, a control rock that never goes too far forward or back.
- Have to buy a set - The table is useful, but undersized. Compared to the chairs, it feels like an afterthought.
Best Rocking Chairs Buying Guide
When it comes to buying a rocking chair, you should be looking for the same features you’d expect from any chair. Is it comfortable? Does it fit the room?
However, you also need to consider the features that make it unique as a rocking chair. Is the movement right? Is the chair still stable?
Rocker Length And Shape
The rockers are the unique feature of a rocking chair. They’re what provides the movement, and they should be one of your main considerations when buying a rocking chair. First, you need to consider the length of the rockers.
Long rockers increase the size of the chair, creating a large base that’s difficult to maneuver. Shorter rockers often have a less gentle motion. Rockers with a small curve give the best control of movement. The average rocker overhangs the chair by about 3 inches.
As with any seat, a rocking chair needs to feel comfortable to sit in. We often buy rocking chairs because the movement aids relaxation, but without good cushioning, it’s hard to feel this benefit. Thick back cushioning is a necessity, as is seat cushioning.
Look for designs with lumbar support and ergonomic shaping, which will provide extra comfort. Arm cushioning is also desirable.
If a rocking chair is meant for relaxation, you don’t want to tire yourself out trying to put it together. Because the basic shape of the rocking chair is what creates the movement, assembly should be relatively simple.
However, that isn’t always the case. Rocking chairs can also be heavy, which makes assembly that bit harder.
The rocking motion can lead to wear and tear, and consistent use might weaken the construction. Hardwoods are a traditional building material for rocking chairs, because even regular usage won’t cause them to wear out fast.
If you’re buying an outdoor rocking chair, it needs to be both solid and weatherproof. Strong plastics, metals, and treated wood are popular choices for material.
The material of any cushioning needs to be considered as well. Linen and cottons are good, and synthetic materials are also common. If you’re buying a rocking chair for a nursery, wipe clean fabrics are always a smart choice.
Travel refers to how much the chair moves as it rocks. If you’ve ever owned a rocking chair before, you might have noticed it slowly seems to edge further into the room. This is because each rock back and forth is walking the chair forward.
Travel is inevitable with a rocking chair, but some move more than others. A rug or carpet can reduce movement, as can a chair mat.
What Will The Chair Be Used For?
Sitting, obviously, but consider who will be sitting on the chair, and what else they might be using it for. A chair you use for reading might have an inclined backrest, while a chair for movie watching might be better with wider arms.
If you plan on nursing in the chair, it needs to be supportive. Older users might prefer a chair with lower legs.
Rocking chairs tend to cost around the same price as a standard armchair, with sturdier materials costing more.
There’s a reasonable price range available for rocking chairs, with something available for most budgets. But be aware - cheaper options tend to sacrifice cushioning.
Best Rocking Chairs - FAQ's
What Is Good About Rocking Chairs?
Rocking chairs are a design classic that adapt well to contemporary styling. But they don’t just look good - there can be some surprising health benefits to owning a rocking chair.
The rocking motion has been shown to increase the blood flow around the body. This improves the movement of oxygen through the bloodstream, pumping it to the joints and back, and easing arthritis symptoms. Increased oxygen levels can improve the flexibility of the knees, and even help to strengthen joints.
The rocking motion also releases endorphins, so a rocking chair makes you happy to use. Those who struggle to fall asleep may find the gentle motion of a rocking chair helps them to drift off. That rocking might even help to improve your balance!
New parents will appreciate these effects, because rocking chairs help babies to fall asleep as well. That back and forth motion is soothing and calming, especially for young children. Rocking a baby can also help to strengthen the bond between parent and child.
Can You Lose Weight Rocking On A Rocking Chair?
Surprisingly, yes! Regular use of a rocking chair can actually burn calories, potentially aiding weight loss. As you control the rocking movement, you use energy, and give out heat. This is known as thermogenesis, and it does use calories. Rocking for an hour could burn around 150 calories.
Although a rocking chair can never replace a trip to the gym, it’s a good way to add some extra movement into a day-to-day routine. For those who struggle with joint pain, a rocking chair can be a fantastic way to strengthen the knees and increase activity.
What’s The Difference Between A Rocking Chair And A Glider?
Gliders are a modern take on the traditional rocking chair. Rather than using curved rockers for movement, they move via swivels and levels. The mechanism is much more complicated, which is why gliders are often expensive, and heavy.
However, without the long rockers, a glider takes up less room than the average rocking chair. The flexibility of design also means they’re often more comfortable.