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Iowa Car Seat Laws You Need To Know (2023)

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When you’re planning a family trip to Iowa, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.

Official Iowa Car Seat Laws

You can find the official Iowa car seat law in Iowa Code 321.466.

Iowa Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

The Iowa rear facing law requires parents to use a rear facing car seat for children under 1 year old and 20 pounds and that they follow the guidelines set forth by the manufacturer of their specific car seat (referred to as “proper use”). Watch for upcoming changes!

Some manufacturers permit children to forward face as young as 1 year as long as they weigh at least 22 pounds, while other manufacturers require toddlers to be at least 2 years old to forward face.

Rear-facing is significantly safer for children as it dramatically decreases the risk of head and neck injuries. This resource is full of great information.

The current guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that children should remain rear-facing to the limits of their convertible car seat. Nearly all convertible car seats today will accommodate kids up to 40 pounds (they have variable height limits so read your manual) – the size of an average 4 year old – rear facing.

Though it’s not specified by the law, research indicates that kids should continue riding in a harnessed car seat (whether rear-facing or forward-facing) until at least age 5, 40 pounds and mature enough to sit properly for the whole drive.

IA car seat law only requires that children ride in some sort of car seat or booster seat until age 6. The currently Iowa car seat law is among the weakest in the country and does not reflect our current understanding of how to keep kids safe in the car. Watch for upcoming changes!

Iowa Booster Seat Law

Iowa requires children to ride in a car seat or booster seat until they reach 6 years old. Be sure to follow manufacturer minimum and maximum size requirements for your booster seat – most manufacturers now require a minimum of 4 years old, 40″ tall and 40 pounds. Watch for upcoming changes!

The Iowa seatbelt law requires that teens continue using a seatbelt until at least 18 years old and that all occupants riding in the front wear a seat belt regardless of age.

Most children do not fit properly in an adults seatbelt until 10-12 years old, when they pass the 5-step test.

When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Iowa?

Iowa front seat law only requires that kids ride in the back seat when they’re in a rear facing car seat (assuming the car has an active air bag in the front). The Iowa DoT recommends that kids under age 12 stay in the back seat. However, but many car manufacturers specify that kids should not ride in the front until age 13. Here’s an excellent explanation of why.

Upcoming Changes To Iowa Car Seat Law

As of 2023, there is proposed legislation to strengthen IA car seat laws. The current bill would require rear facing until 3 years old or 30lbs and require use of a car seat or booster seat until 8 years old. If that bill passes and is signed into law, Iowa car seat law would go from one of the weakest car seat laws in the US to one of the strongest.

Get the latest from Blank Children’s Hospital

If you’ll be flying to Iowa, be sure to bring one of these travel car seats. If you’re planning a family road trip, consider one of these comfortable convertible car seats or comfortable booster seats. Check more car seat laws by state as you plan your route.

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