What is a Rocking Chair?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
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  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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A rocking chair is a chair mounted on rockers, which are two curved pieces, usually made of wood, that sit beneath the legs of the chair. When a person sits in a rocking chair, with slight pressure from feet on the ground, they can produce the slight rocking motion associated with these chairs. Since the 19th century, rocking chairs have been popular pieces of furniture in homes, and there is some rumor that Benjamin Franklin may have invented them. This piece of trivia is not necessarily true, and many furniture historians date invention to the early part of the 18th century, possibly not even in America but in England.

Regardless of the inventor, various rocking chair styles became very popular in the 1800s, most of them made of sturdy wood. Wooden rocking chairs today still exist in abundance, but many favor more comfortable chairs with padding, which might be placed directly on the chair in the factory. Some chairs are elaborately upholstered. A few chairs that rock today include large recliners, which are far different in shape from original wood models. Alternately, people can buy chair pads to cushion a hard rocking chair.

There’s some suggestion that early rocking chairs were outside chairs meant especially for gardens. They’re certainly featured on numerous porches throughout the world. For outdoor use, materials for these chairs may include wicker, metal and plastic, which may hold up better than certain types of wood to outdoor exposure.


In homes, wicker, wood and upholstered rockers are more common, and they are frequently associated with baby rooms. Rocking infants in chairs is thought very soothing to babies and may mimic the movement they felt while in their mothers’ wombs. Large chairs may be ideal for moms who want to nurse babies too, though sometimes the height of the chair’s arms may make nursing more difficult. Expectant moms should try out several rockers to see which ones provide arm support at a comfortable height. Rockers are available in lots of stores devoted to selling baby items and also in plenty of furniture stores.

One variation of the rocking chair that is preferred in many nurseries is the glide rocker, often sold with an ottoman. This provides a more gliding, back and forth motion instead of a slight up and down motion associated with the traditional rocking chair. Glide rockers tend to be slightly more expensive than are standard rocking chairs.

The rocking chair doesn't just belong in the nursery. They can provide lovely and comfortable furniture in many locations in a home, indoors or outdoors. Some care needs to be taken when placing a rocker too close to walls, especially if enthusiastic children live in the home. The back of the chair’s rockers can easily gouge walls if they hit them regularly.


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Post 1

What's a rocking chair? Why, it's the most soothing, comfortable chair on the planet is what it is.

I'll always have a rocking chair on hand as gently rocking away is oddly tranquil. Don't go cheap on rocking chairs, though -- a good one will last a long time, doesn't have to be overly expensive and will quickly become your favorite seat in the house.

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