Cushy or Colorful, Metal or Swivel, the Best Kids’ Desk Chairs Are Top of the Class
They’ll support your child’s dynamic schedule.
Updated Aug 21, 2023 1:21 PM
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The end of August signifies the swan song of out-of-office messages and Summer Fridays. Work Week is our one-stop-shopping cluster dedicated to feeling good about getting back into a routine—whether that’s working from home, the office, or a classroom. We’ve got the snazzy task lamps, new desks, and sharp organization tools to help.
A good desk chair with great back support is a key element in any workspace. But a great desk chair? It provides not just strong lumbar support but has that elusive element: style. Whether they’re bold and colorful or techy and almost futuristic, an ideal desk chair ties a home office together while helping you be your best professional self.
And, yes, the same goes for kids’ desk chairs but with a few notable differences. The importance of ergonomic elements—armrests and backrests, tilting seats, and adjustable heights—is usually lost on petite bodies and active minds. Compared to adults, kids typically have a more dynamic schedule (how many times do they jump up or settle down in an hour?!) and engage in a broader range of activities. “Kids don’t tend to need hard-core ergonomic design with added lumbar support and all the bells and whistles that some adult office chairs come with,” says Megan Dufresne of California-based interior design firm MC Design. But with that said, children do still need a comfy seat that provides at least some degree of support, so we searched the market for the best kids’ desk chairs, from easy-to-clean metal to comfy and cushioned. (Note: All dimensions are given as height-by-width-by-depth.)
- Best wheeled: Target Pillowfort Rolling Desk Chair
- Best cushioned: Pottery Barn Kids Square Upholstered Desk Chair
- Best mixed materials: West Elm Scoop Play Chair
- Best colors: Ferm Living Little Architect Chair
- Best silhouette: Oeuf Bear Play Chair
- Best retro: Crate& Kids Lennon Molded Kids Play Chair
- Best value: IKEA Orfjall Chair
- Best wood: Industry West Tike Kid’s Chair
- Best for teens: Emiah Armless Office Desk Chair
Best Wheeled: Target Pillowfort Rolling Desk Chair
Material: Powder-coated metal, wood, polyester | 26.5-by-20.5-by-21 inches | Additional feature: Cushioned seat
What we like:
- Affordable task chair
- Great neutral colors to choose from (beige-white, navy, blush pink)
- A breeze to assemble
- Clean, minimal design with low upkeep
- Fixed height
- Light amount of cushion
Why we chose it: An approachable price tag to hook shoppers with one spin.
From Target’s Pillowfort collection, a collaboration with award-winning children’s book illustrator and author Christian Robinson, comes this kids’ desk chair that is light and durable thanks to its powder-coated metal body and seat. While you might think that the benefits of a wheeled chair—switching from side to side of a large desk, moving from computer monitor to computer monitor—might be lost on a child, we’re here to tell you that the functionality of a swivel is for everyone. We love that the simple design, paired up with smooth-rolling casters, is priced under $100. Make it matchy-matchy with a coordinating desk from the same line, switch it up with a different color, or pair it with something else entirely.
Best Cushioned: Pottery Barn Kids Square Upholstered Desk Chair
Material: Brushed nickel, polyester | 17-by-14.75-by-38.25 inches | Additional features: Cushioned seat, adjustable height
What we like:
- 14 fabric choices
- Greenguard Gold and Oeko-Tex 100 certified
- Upholstered in recycled materials
Why we chose it: Longer study sessions call for 360-degree swivel ability and a comfy seat.
“Although younger kids will benefit more from the stability of a fixed chair, older children who are starting to multitask will benefit from a swivel chair,” says Mark Cutler of Los Angeles–based interior design firm Cutler Schulze. This exclusive design to Pottery Barn Kids is a major upgrade: an adjustable height (from 34 to 38.25 inches) and a fully padded cushion upholstered in recycled fabrics, including a trendy sherpa and bouclé. You can see it in action in the play-slash-study room of DIYer Joy Green’s kids. She picked the chairs knowing they’d be able to use them from kindergarten to high school.
Best Mixed Materials: West Elm Scoop Play Chair
Material: Bentwood, steel | Dimensions: 18.5-by-14-by-27 inches | Additional feature: Lightweight
What we like:
- Thoughtful mixture of materials
- A rainbow range of fun color choices (like horseradish and sapphire ice)
- Sold individually or as a set of 2
- Sized with younger children in mind
Why we chose it: A joyful pop of color and mixed materials make this a classic style fit for kids.
There’s something about the mix of color and materials that feels just right with this streamlined design from West Elm. The playful Scoop, painted in water-based, nontoxic paint, nods to adult-size mid-century modern designs. The curvy bentwood seat paired with slim metal legs in a matching hue is structured with younger kiddos in mind and made to be easy to clean. Tuck it under a wood desk, add multiple at a craft table, or even place one alone in a corner for a good book nook. We also love that West Elm shares that it has been rigorously tested to meet all voluntary safety standards.
Best Colors: Ferm Living Little Architect Chair
Material: Solid ash wood and ash veneer with MDF core | Dimensions: 20.5-by-13-by-12 inches | Additional features: Lots of colors and matching desks
What we like:
- Available in 8 colors
- Solid ash-wood construction
- Coordinates with other pieces in the Little Architect collection
- Seat height of 12 inches is sized for children under age 10
- Does not provide lower-back support for longer hours of sitting
Why we chose it: All the benefits of a solid wood desk chair with the fun of eight different colors, ranging from bold hues to refined neutrals.
We’re suckers for the clean lines and color options of Dutch purveyor Ferm Living and its Little Architect line of furniture, which includes a table, desk, bench, and chair. The collection has been designed so that the pieces (and colors) can be mixed and matched, thanks to their consistent proportions and palette. This chair is available in eight hues: bordeaux red, dark green, dark blue, rose pink, medium gray, taupe cashmere, and poppy red. It has a bar back and no arms, making it easy to slide in and out under the matching desk or table.
Best Silhouette: Oeuf Bear Play Chair
Material: Plywood | Dimensions: 11.75-by-13.5-by-24 inches | Additional feature: Customize the look with Play Stickers
What we like:
- Sturdy construction of plywood
- Sustainably made in Europe and ships in recycled packaging
- Choice between natural birch and white or walnut and white
- For children ages 2 to 6
- Only sold as set of 2
Why we chose it: This desk chair sporting ears plays up its plywood construction.
They say design is in the details, and that’s definitely the case for this kids’ desk chair by Brooklyn-based, French-inspired furniture and clothing brand Oeuf. You likely recognize its statement-making silhouette from Studio AF founder Arielle Fried’s nursery-slash-office; the curved back, made of Baltic birch plywood, is cut in the shape of bear or rabbit ears. What’s more adorable than that?
Best Wood: Industry West Tike Kid’s Chair
Material: Beechwood | Dimensions: 14.9-by-16.3-by-22.2 inches | Additional feature: Handmade
What we like:
- 5-year warranty
- Doubles as a dining chair
- 20% off right now with the code SUMMER
- On the pricey side
- Can retain spills
Why we chose it: An all-wood frame with rounded corners (no bumps or bruises here).
At first glance, you wouldn’t know this chair was kid-size until you inspected the dimensions—and that’s exactly why we love it. That and the fact that its entire frame is 100% real beechwood. It’s actually a scaled-down version of Industry West’s popular dining chair, Tike. The natural light finish keeps it looking elegant, and the 22.2-inch height makes it easy for your toddler to pull this one up to a desk or dinner table. Multifunctionality for the win.
Best Retro: Crate & Kids Lennon Molded Kids Play Chair
Material: Plastic, steel | Dimensions: 15.5-by-17.5-by-22.5 inches | Additional feature: Pair it with the play tables
What we like:
- Comfy and supportive
- Ergonomic mold
- Easy to care for
- Comes in blue, gray, white, and yellow
- Might be tricky to put together (as one nonhandy grandmother notes)
Why we love it: We love the charm, colors, and overall cuteness of this nostalgic desk chair.
While we love Leanne Ford’s bouclé cushioned miniature chair for Crate & Barrel—peep it in the playroom of Erin Fetherston’s L.A. home—we’re really into this well-reviewed, molded alternative right now. Technically speaking, the Lennon has contemporary flair. But we can’t help but see grade-school chair vibes, just way cuter. The ergonomic plastic seat is easy to clean (all it’ll ever need is a quick wipe), and the capped legs keep floor scratching at bay. Plus reviewers confirm that not only do their kids from ages 2 to 9 love it, but fellow parents share that they are comfortable enough to pop a squat when they need to as well.
Best Value: IKEA Orfjall Chair
Material: Steel (seat and frame), polypropylene and polyurethane foam (seat pad), polyester fabric (seat cover) | Dimensions: 33-by-21-by-21 inches | Additional features: Cushioned seat, 360-degree swivel, height adjustable
What we like:
- Adjustable seat, caster wheels, and swivel ability
- High-quality density foam in the seat for ample cushioning
- High back provides good lumbar support
- Recommended for ages 6 to 12
- Nonremovable cover
Why we chose it: Homework just got a little more bearable thanks to this adjustable swivel chair at an affordable price point.
For the serious sitters in your life who can draw for hours, we recommend something that swivels for maximum efficiency. This chair from IKEA offers flexibility with its adjustable height and swiveling seat, not to mention the comfort of the cushioned seat and back. Its simple, airy shape keeps it from feeling too techy and grown-up, and its three colorways (light blue, light pink, and light gray) work in a variety of spaces and color palettes. If you’re concerned about the chair rolling away, know that the casters have a safety mechanism that keeps it in place. It will also automatically release when your kid sits down. Phew!
Best for Teens: Emiah Armless Office Desk Chair
Material: Faux leather, rubber, metal | Dimensions: 19.3-by-25.5-by-34.2 inches | Additional feature: Adjustable height
What we like:
- Trendy enough for picky tweens
- Fast shipping
- An extra-wide and -deep seat (25.5 inches and 19.3 inches, respectively)
- Not suitable for young children; possible tipping
Why we chose it: An adjustable height and roomy seat fit.
Nearly every chair on this list is geared toward kids enrolled in elementary school, so if you’re on the search for a seat that would make a middle- or high schooler happy, we have just the find for you. This armless viral sensation from Amazon delivers 4.8 inches of adjustable height, 120 degrees of tilt, and 360 degrees of swivel. The extra-padded premium leather cushion is comfortable enough to become their main study spot. In fact, it may be so comfortable that they’ll want to take it with them to college.
More Affordable Kids’ Desk Chairs We Love
If you don’t want to spend as much on your child’s chair as you did your own office chair—especially since there’s no saying how long it’ll fit them—don’t sweat. We found a few under-$100 finds that still nail our criteria for the best kids’ desk chair: comfy, cute, and quality.
How We Chose These Products
Design and aesthetics always play an important part in our decision-making. In fact, when we vetted our selections for the best kids’ desk chairs, these two factors were just as important as the practical side of things, like proper back support, durable materials, and easy-to-clean surfaces. Color palettes, budget, and adjustability were also top of mind, balancing affordability and appearance. And our experts, from educators to interior designers, agree: It’s not form over function but instead form and function when it comes to the best workspaces for your child.
Design and Shape
If you’re looking for the best desk chair for your child, you might initially think that you need a mini version of your own. But our experts caution that’s not quite the case. Elements such as armrests, which provide critical elbow support when spending the day typing away at a computer, might actually prevent a child from sitting properly. “A desk chair that does not have armrests allows a child to tuck it all the way in, ensuring good posture and proper back support,” says interior designer Becc Burgmann of Becc Burgmann Interior Design, who also has a background in education. And on the topic of good back support: Make sure the chair has a high, sturdy, and comfortable back for them to lean against.
When it comes to aesthetics, a desk chair should go with a room’s overall design in terms of both style and color scheme, recommends Jessica Welling of Jessica Welling Interiors. “Kids’ chairs come in a lot of fun colors, so I often try to choose something that will stand out but still fit in with the room’s color scheme,” she adds.
Material and Overall Quality
Durability is the way to go when it comes to this category. “I tend to navigate toward strong materials that will withstand some wear and tear and work with the overall design for the space we are creating,” explains Dufresne. Look for materials like wood and powder-coated steel that fit the bill in terms of both longevity and ease of cleaning. And for desk chairs that have upholstered seats, our experts recommend wipeable surfaces like vinyl, faux leather, or performance fabrics designed to stand the wear and tear of art projects and lots of movement.
“Kids don’t generally spend hours on end sitting in one position at their desks,” Wellington points out. “They get up and move around a lot more than adults.” With that in mind, ergonomics is still important. You’ll want to make sure that the depth of the chair is appropriate for your child so that they can sit with their back against the back of the chair and their knees off the edge. That way, they have the appropriate lumbar support they need, and their feet can hang down toward the ground or even reach it, depending on their size and that of the chair. If you’ve found a chair that fits them properly, “sitting well and comfortably will help a kid focus and learn better,” comments Cutler. What’s more, “it’s never too early to start teaching your kids about posture!” he adds.
If there’s anything that all kids do, it’s grow. And so the desire for a desk chair (and clothes and beds and shoes…we could go on!) that grows with them is normal. “A desk that can adjust in height is amazing because it can lead to better posture and ultimately make the desk more useful over a longer period of time,” says Cutler. While that’s certainly the case, not all chairs are adjustable, so make sure you’re checking in every so often that your child is sitting comfortably. If their feet touch the ground and their knees are at less than 90 degrees (like when you’re riding a bike that’s too small and your knees feel like they’re in your neck!), it’s time to size up.
Despite their mobility, interior designers and educators generally do not recommend using folding chairs as long-term solutions for kids’ desk chairs because of their lack of durability and ergonomic form. Most folding chairs are designed to be lightweight and relatively flat for space-saving purposes, so they’re not designed to accommodate a human body for extended periods of time (comfortably, anyway!). If you’re worried about saving space, “a chair without arms that can be tucked under a desk when not in use isn’t going to take up much space at all,” advises Burgmann, and there are plenty of kids’ desk chairs that have wheels or are lightweight enough to pick up and move.
Q: Does my child really need an ergonomic chair?
“Children don’t spend as much time at a desk as adults (at least they shouldn’t!), so I don’t think splurging on an ergonomic chair is necessary,” asserts Burgmann. However, she adds, “their desk chairs do need to be set at the right height, be comfortable, have a back for support, and be easy to use.” Kids (and adults, really) should be taking regular breaks, where they stand up from their desk, she points out. It can be helpful to encourage children to do specific tasks like homework at their desk, but then suggest they read curled up on the couch or tummy-down on the floor to stretch their bodies and strengthen other muscles.
Q: In the era of remote schooling, which type of chair is best for long periods of sitting?
Most professionals we spoke with acknowledged that it’s not ideal for children to be sitting in the same spot for extended periods of time, but that’s not always an option if they’re attending school remotely. You’ll want to find something that has good back support, for sure, but also a chair that has a cushioned seat: one with firm padding, says interior designer Shana Francesca, founder of Cincinnati. A seat that’s not hard but firm, she notes, will be more supportive. “Really soft cushions collapse and condense after 15 to 30 minutes of sitting,” she points out, so go for something that has a balance of giving and firmness.
Q: Are swivel chairs safe for children?
Swivel chairs get a bad rap for being unsafe for children, but our experts are on the same page: They are generally fine for most kids, depending on their age. “Younger kids will benefit from more stability of a fixed chair, while older ones who are starting to multitask will benefit from a swivel,” explains Cutler. Instead we recommend avoiding a chair with wheels for young children (“You know it will be used as a toy!” warns Welling) and setting boundaries for older kids. The novelty of a chair that moves will eventually wear off.
The Last Word
If you’re looking for the best desk chair for your child, you’ll want to think about how they’ll be using the seat: Is it a place for short spans of time devoted to crafts and coloring or is it the locus of learning for hours at a time during remote school? Depending on their activities and their age, different features like a cushioned seat, a wipeable surface, or adjustable height might be just what they need. But regardless of what you’re looking for, lumbar support and a touch of personality are key, and these chairs hit all those marks.