Detailed Guide: What is a Glider Recliner?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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One of the most exciting things to do when preparing for your baby’s arrival is setting up the nursery! And choosing furniture is an essential part of a nursery setup. In your search for a good nursery chair, you will realize the need for a recliner chair. With this need comes the question – what is a glider recliner? 

Glider recliners are increasingly becoming popular due to the advantages they offer the modern parent. A glider offers a less aggressive ride than a rocker recliner, making it a more comfortable option for many individuals.

So, to help you decide whether or not a glider chair is suitable for you, we have delved deep into everything you need to know.

What is a Glider Recliner?

A glider sits on a fixed track and moves with a back-and-forth motion. It sways silently without the creaking noise you would get from traditional rocking chairs. Several gliders are designed to swivel in a 360° range of motion. Additionally, glider recliners can also be paired with an ottoman, or they can come with a recliner option. 

Glider with Perfect Range of Motion

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Features of Glider Recliners

It is not uncommon to hear gliders being referred to as platform rockers. The frame of a glider chair has a four-bar link that attaches the seating area to the base. The four-bar link consists of non-parallel suspension arms that enable the rocking motion.

Many individuals compare rocking chairs to gliders, and they are not wrong. Both types of seats offer a motion suitable for snuggling with a newborn baby or just relaxing with a good book. However, while rocking chairs offer the rocking motion in an arch, gliders move smoothly along a fixed track. Additionally, with gliders, there is no risk of trapping your toes underneath the chair.

Gliders are said to be perfect chairs for nurseries, for nursing mothers to feed their newborns. However, a glider recliner can also be used in other areas of the home. Most gliders are upholstered recliners that offer cushioned seating and comfortable armrests. You can use a glider recliner in the living room, outdoors, or even in your bedroom.

A glider is usually used with an ottoman. Most gliders will come with a matching ottoman as a package. An ottoman is a footstool used with a glider recliner so the occupant can put their feet up.

Gliders by Design

The variety of glider designs in the market proves that these comfortable recliners are not meant to be used exclusively in nurseries. The following are the different categories of gliders you will most likely come across:

1. Traditional

Matching Ottomans

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Traditional glider recliners are simple and most often made from wood. The style is what you will often find in nurseries occupying small spaces. It has a timeless look, and the clean design makes it a popular item with nursing mothers. Traditional gliders have removable cushions and padded armrests. They also come with lumbar support for extra comfort and an ottoman for resting your feet. If your package lacks lumbar support, purchase a lumbar pillow separately.

2. Modern and Contemporary

Chair With Gliding Motion

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These are the glider chairs you will likely see in a living room. They are more structurally constructed with upholstered chairs. Modern and contemporary gliders are more deliberate, offering advanced aesthetic sensibility. Some are made with stain-resistant fabric, and others even have adjustable headrests.

3. Cottage and Country

Comfortable Chair

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Cottage and country glider designs offer the same feel you find from a traditional recliner. These gliders are perfect for use in a summer home, farmhouse, cottage, or ranch. Like traditional recliners, they easily harmonize with the countryside. Most often, the material comes in beautiful floral motifs and a more laid-back design than modern styles. You can look for a suitable glider on the best swivel recliner chairs list.

How Does A Glider Chair Work?

 Unlike a rocker recliner which moves on an arched path, gliders offer smooth movement on a fixed track. And while some models of glider recliners come with a swivel base, most rock back and forth like a traditional rocking chair. Nonetheless, the rocking motion is less aggressive and offers a far more comfortable ride than other chairs in the same category. 

Gliders are not lightweight, their construction involves several materials that make them immobile. These seats boast greater mass and weight, from the base to the cushions used to design a glider.

Safety is always a priority when buying furniture in a home with kids and pets. Traditional rockers commonly have two pinch points that allow the chair to rotate. These two points with the floor pose risks for young children and animals, who can easily get trapped underneath. On the other hand, gliders are not designed with these pinch points, making them a safer option.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Gliders

Like everything else, gliders also have advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of a Glider

One of the biggest benefits a glider has is that they don’t need a huge designated area like a rocking chair would. Gliders move in a simple linear direction, occupying less space when rocking.

Secondly, gliders are becoming more and more popular because of how smooth their movements are. They offer a calming ride that supports relaxation, especially when the occupant has trouble falling asleep.

Additionally, gliders are safer to use because you do not need to worry about your toes getting trapped underneath while the chair rocks. None of the glider parts moves off the ground to aid in rocking the user, as you would see with other rocker recliners.

Cons of a Glider

Users who appreciate how much a comfortable recliner can extend and help in sleeping may not enjoy using gliders. Gliders offer limited movement when compared to other recliners.

Another downside to gliders is their mass. There are individuals who appreciate the innocent look traditional recliners have in a nursery. To some people, the great mass of a glider may be too conspicuous.


If you are a fan of recliners, you have most probably come across the term glider recliner. Glider recliners are becoming the go-to furniture for comfort. Not only do they have an aesthetic look when added to a space, but they have several benefits for those with back pains.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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