We strongly recommend a glider or rocking chair for every nursery. In addition to rocking your baby to sleep, they are excellent for breast feeding, book time, and establishing a good bedtime routine. They relax a fussy baby with a gentle motion, relax tired parents, and are a must-have piece of nursery furniture.
When we had our first baby, we thought it would be a good idea to go to Babies R Us and lug home a glider and ottoman. Turns out the price was higher than online, and we couldn't fit the boxes into our car. After an on-the-spot return, we ordered a glider and ottoman from Amazon and it came two days later with free shipping! We ended up getting the Stork Craft Hoop Glider and Ottoman set. Back then it was about $250, but now it goes for under $150. Even with the higher price we definitely got our money's worth: we used it multiple times a day for two years straight, and now a relative continues to use it 5 years later!
So we are a bit partial to the Stork Craft, but thought we would put some others to the test and write up a list of Best Gliders and Ottomans for 2016. We went to Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Costco, and ended up purchasing 4 of the best we could find. We also had 3 companies mail us samples, and tried out 4 additional ones at friends' houses. So that's 11 different gliders and rocking chairs we ended up testing. From the test, we found that the following things matter most when picking a glider or rocking chair for your nursery:
Glider versus Rocking Chair. As a bit of a traditionalist I was convinced that I wanted an old school rocking chair, something wooden and vintage, creaking a bit and bringing back old memories with every push. There's definitely something to be said for rocking chairs, but there's also something to be said for soft carpeted floors, and as it turns out rocking chairs and thick carpeting don't mesh so well. Rocking chairs also aren't great for parents putting their feet up on an ottoman. While a glider will let you glide back and forth with your feet up on the ottoman by rocking your feet forward/back, the rocking chair responds awkwardly to any attempts at gentle rocking with the feet up. Also, with a traditional rocker you need to strategically place cushions or the chair will get uncomfortable after a few minutes. But there is the style and space benefit: a good wooden rocker is not only great looking but takes up less space than a modern glider. And a foot rest can help bring your knees up a bit and keep things more comfortable. Though we do think that the style of the traditional rocker is a plus, we do think the features and comfort (for baby and parents) of a glider definitely put it at a strong advantage. So our list this year only includes gliders.
High-back versus Low-back. Some modern gliders look more like living room furniture, like the Thomasville Grand Royale Glider shown on the right. While these can make more comfortable options and fit in nicely with a nursery decor, they have the low-back disadvantage. You won't realize this until you're using it one sleepy evening and you want to put your head back to rest with your little munchkin. The high-back ottomans with the wooden frame and cushions make a better option here. So think about the trade-off between having a nice furniture-like style versus being able to relax a bit yourself by putting your head back. If the moment comes when you want to take a little nap with your baby, you might regret purchasing a low-back glider. Also, through our testing we came to the realization that the low-back furniture style gliders tend to over-do it a bit on the gliding and swiveling, making it a bit of a wild ride until you get used to how it moves. On the other hand, it is nice that you could use this as a regular piece of furniture once your baby has grown up!
To Ottoman or not to Ottoman? Some gliders include the ottoman in the package whereas some others make you pay a little extra (well, sometimes a lot extra) for the ottoman. In our opinion, the ottoman is always worth the cost. Even if you don't imagine yourself using it at first, your future self will be grateful if you splurge for it now. It definitely adds to the comfort factor for parents, and it also doubles as a convenient little place to put a book or bottle during quiet time with baby. Of course, it does take up more space in the nursery so be sure to take some measurements beforehand!
Locking and Finger Pinching. While wood frame gliders are fantastic and provide a super smooth and comforting gliding rhythm, they also have several pinch points toward the bottom where little fingers or pet paws can get into trouble. We highly recommend getting a glider that has a lock lever so you can lock out the gliding motion when not in use. Babies love standing and pushing the glider back and forth, but the risk of pinching and injury is not worth it!
Comfort and Durability. We saved what is probably the most important for last: comfort and durability! The chairs that we list below made it to the top of our list in terms of comfort. There were many brands that just didn't make the cut because their padding was too firm, the back was to straight up, the gliding was clunky, or the arm rests were awkward. There were also a few that literally started falling apart within the first week of use, usually screws falling out or cushion ties ripping off. We do not include those in our list.
Here are the Best Gliders and Ottomans of 2016!
1. Dutailier Ultramotion Glider and Ottoman. About $575. OK, we do realize this is a very expensive glider and ottoman combination, but you have to try it to realize how amazing it is! Unlike many other gliders, the Ultramotion is made by a reputable furniture company that produces generally high quality products. The proof is in the fabric, cushions, long and smooth gliding motion, reclining back, retractable footrest (!) in the ottoman, and high build quality. This is the ultimate glider and we fell in love with it in about 5 minutes. The cushions are super soft and supportive, the fabric is durable and easy to clean, the locking mechanism has multiple positions, and it is just overall a perfect glider. We didn't find any negatives about this except for the price. At over twice as much as most other gliders and ottomans, this not only is the best out there but it will cost you! If you value comfort, features, and durability, and don't turn green at the thought of spending $575 on a glider, then this is the one for you! Note that they also make a beautiful, and slightly less expensive white sleigh style version here. If you really want to splurge for an even more comfy version, then check out their Grand Glider model.
2. Naomi Home Brisbane Glider and Ottoman. About $150. This is a super comfortable glider, with a nice smooth gliding motion, comfortable cushions, and a good build quality for the price (reminds us of the old Shermag gliders, which were also high build quality). But at $170, you're not going to get many of the features that make the Dutailier model really stand out. There is no lock mechanism on the glider, so there is a higher risk of pinched fingers, and sometimes can be awkward to stand up from while carrying a baby. The gliding motion is smooth but not quite as long as the Dutailier, the back is not reclining, and the bottom cushion isn't quite as thick and comfy. All that being said, if you're looking for a less expensive glider with good build quality and medium-to-high comfort, this is a great option. Like the others, it took us about 20 minutes to put this together. Some things were really nice: it has a slightly wider hip area which is nice and big enough for baby legs to comfortably lay to the side, and convenient side pockets for books, wipes, or whatever else you'd like to keep at arm's reach. The high-back was nice, not quite as high as the Dutailier, but high enough for the less vertically inclined parents to comfortably rest their heads. The army cushioning was a bit lacking versus the Dutailier, but again it's about a third of the price. Overall, very high bang for the buck, though we wish they had included a locking mechanism.
3. Stork Craft Hoop Glider and Ottoman. About $150 to $200 depending on colors/patterns. The Stork Craft glider has been around for years now, and hasn't changed much in that time. Though there are some relatively unique patterns available (like this cute chevron pattern), the overall glider keeps the look and feel of their gliders from 5-7 years ago. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and you get good bang for the buck, especially with the less expensive simple beige color option. For about $150 you get a solid glider and ottoman that should last you for the couple of years you'll reasonably need to use it. We found the features very similar to the Naomi Home option: smooth gliding motion, side arm pockets, included ottoman, and reasonably comfortable cushions. The bottom cushion was a bit on the thinner side, like the Naomi Home. We did find the Naomi Home option to be of higher build quality, at least judging by the units we tested. The Stork Craft had some paint drip marks on the white wooden back, and a little wood chip on the bottom (right out of the box). So this is the least expensive glider and ottoman combination on the list, but we think that it shows a bit in terms of overall build quality. We did find the glider and ottoman to be smooth and supportive, and overall thought it was quite good for the price. If you're looking to save a bit of money and probably still be able to sell this for $50 on Craigslist after a few years, then this is probably the best bet. Not a bad glider, certainly not the best, but definitely the cheapest.
4. Shermag Glider and Ottoman Combo. About $350-450. Back in 2011 the Shermag was at the top of our list for best glider and ottomans. It was well-made, and honestly the most comfortable glider on the market. The cushions beat out the Stork Craft version by a long shot, it included the locking mechanism, and in our testing it was well constructed and outlasted many of the others. Now fast-forward 5 years, there is more competition on the glider market, and Shermag slipped a little behind in the ratings. Granted, it still makes our top gliders list, so it's still one of the best on the market. But the build quality, like the Stork Craft, is inconsistent. So the Shermag and Stork Craft are pretty similar to one another with a few primary differences. First, the Shermag has more comfortable seating cushions, especially the thicker bottom cushion. Second, the Shermag includes the locking mechanism, which we think is very important in a glider. Third, the Shermag does a good job padding the arm rests, and providing a thick head rest area, and we believe it has a nice sleigh style that comes with more expensive units. Outside of that, you're basically getting a similar glider to the Stork Craft, but paying a premium for the thicker seat cushion and locking mechanism. It was a toss-up whether to place the Shermag at 3rd or 4th place, and in our opinion it is a close tie since it's difficult to attach a price to a comfier cushion and locking mechanism.
5. Thomasville Kids Grand Royale Swivel Glider and Ottoman. About $500. Though we are partial to the gliders, we think that there is something to be said for having nursery furniture that doesn't look like it only belongs in the nursery. The alternative is to get a more comfortable living room chair that integrates a gliding and swiveling motions. Though we think they lose out to gliders because the low-back doesn't support a sleep parent's head, they definitely win in the furniture versatility and style departments. This best-selling microfiber chair is one of the most comfortable glide/swivel low-back chairs we've sat in. Not sure how supportive it actually is for breast feeding, but we'll let you be the judge of that one. Overall, this chair has fantastic furniture-grade build quality, and the fabric is soft and easily cleaned. In our testing, we didn't really like the swiveling motion, which made me a little motion sick and made it difficult to stand up from. They go a little overboard with the motion on these.