Iowa Car Seat Laws 2023

As a parent or guardian, it is important to understand the car seat laws in Iowa to ensure the safety of your child while traveling in a vehicle. These laws can vary depending on the age, weight, and height of your child, as well as the type of car seat or booster seat being used. In this article, we will provide an overview of Iowa car seat laws in 2023.

Official Iowa Car Seat Laws

The Iowa Code 321.446 outlines the car seat laws that apply to children in Iowa. According to this law:

  • Infants who are under 1 year old and weigh less than 20 pounds must be secured in an infant, rear-facing car seat.
  • Children who are older than 1 year and weigh over 20 pounds but are under the age of 6 must use a child restraining system, such as a front-facing car seat or a booster seat.
  • Children who are between the ages of 6 and 18 are required to use either a booster seat or a seat belt. These laws are in place to ensure the safety and protection of children while traveling in a vehicle in Iowa.

Iowa Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

In Iowa, the law mandates that children under the age of two must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat. This requirement applies to all children who weigh less than 30 pounds and are less than 32 inches tall. The rear-facing position is considered safer for infants and toddlers, as it provides better protection for their head, neck, and spine in the event of a collision.

Iowa Forward-facing Car Seat Law

Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, they must transition to a forward-facing car seat with a harness. Iowa law states that children who are at least two years old and have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing seat can move into a forward-facing seat. It is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding weight and height limits for each specific car seat model.

Iowa Booster Seat Law

Iowa law requires children to use a booster seat after they have outgrown their forward-facing car seat with harness. Children are eligible to transition to a booster seat once they reach the age of four and have outgrown the height and weight limits of their forward-facing seat. A booster seat helps position the vehicle’s seat belt properly across a child’s body, reducing the risk of injuries in the event of a crash.

Leaving Child in Car Law in Iowa

In Iowa, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle. The law states that a child under the age of six cannot be left alone in a vehicle without a person who is at least 12 years old present. This law is in place to prevent incidents such as heatstroke, abduction, or injury that may occur when a child is left unsupervised in a vehicle.

Taxi Car Seat Law in Iowa

Iowa law does not specifically address car seat requirements for taxis or other hired vehicles. However, it is highly recommended that children be properly secured in an appropriate car seat or booster seat while riding in a taxi. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents should use the same safety measures in taxis as they do in their personal vehicles. It is advisable to check with the taxi company beforehand to ensure they can accommodate car seat installation.

Upcoming Changes To Iowa Car Seat Law

In 2023, there is a proaposed legislation in Iowa aimed at strengthening car seat laws. According to the current bill, children would be required to ride in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 3 or until they reach 30 pounds. Additionally, the use of a car seat or booster seat would be required until the age of 8.

If this bill is passed and signed into law, Iowa’s car seat laws would transform from being one of the weakest in the country to one of the most robust ones. These changes would undoubtedly improve child safety and reduce the risk of injuries in case of an accident.


When Can My Child Sit in the Front Seat in Iowa?

According to Iowa law, children under the age of 13 should always ride in the back seat of a vehicle, if possible. However, if the back seat is not available or if it is not practical to use a rear-facing car seat, a child who is at least 6 years old and weighs at least 60 pounds may ride in the front seat of a vehicle.

Is it Illegal to Smoke in a Car with a Child in Iowa?

Yes, it is illegal to smoke in a car with a child under the age of 18 in Iowa. Violations of this law can result in fines and other penalties.

When can a child use a booster seat?

Children should use a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. This typically occurs when a child is between the ages of 8 and 12.

What is the booster seat weight limit?

The booster seat weight limit is typically between 80 and 100 pounds, depending on the specific booster seat model.

When did booster seats become mandatory?

Booster seats became mandatory in Iowa in 2008. This law requires children under the age of 8 to use a booster seat when riding in a vehicle.

Iowa Car Seat Laws


By following these car seat laws in Iowa, you can help keep your child safe and avoid potential fines or penalties. It is always important to read and follow the instructions provided with your car seat or booster seat, and to replace it if it has been involved in a crash or is past its expiration date. By staying informed and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your child is safe and secure while traveling in a vehicle.