Car Seat Laws in Iowa (2023) – Age, Weight, Height Requirements

According to the Iowa State Law, children under 6 years of age should travel in a child restraint system that is in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. That means, a 6-year-old child still needs a car seat in Iowa.

What is the Car Seat Law in Iowa?

Iowa State Legislature for Motor Vehicles and Law of the Road Section §321.446 on Child Restraint System reads: “A child under one year of age and weighing less than twenty pounds who is being transported in a motor vehicle subject to registration, except a school bus or motorcycle, shall be secured during transit in a rear-facing child restraint system [...]. A child under six years of age who does not meet the description in paragraph “a” [...] that is used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.”

Iowa Car Seat Laws Rear-Facing

The Iowa law section §321.446 1. a. requires infants and toddlers under the age of 12 months and less than 20 pounds to ride in a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the highest weight or height limit set by the manufacturer.

The rear-facing car seats should be installed and used based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Iowa Forward Facing Car Seat Laws

The Iowa law does not state the age, weight, or height requirements on a forward-facing car seat.

It just says that children under 6 years old should be secured in a child restraint system.

It’s best to follow the guidelines from NHTSA – You should secure your child in a forward-facing car seat after they exceed the weight or height limit of the rear-facing car seat.

You need always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and car seat user manual to use the forward-facing seat. Experts recommend using a forward-facing car seat until the age of 4.

However, it’s better to stick to a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible.

Most forward-facing car seats, including convertible, harnessed booster, or all-in-one car seats, feature a harness with a weight limit up to 65 pounds and a height limit up to 49 inches.

That typically happens around age 5-6.

When can a child be forward-facing in Iowa?

The law does not answer this question directly. But according to the law in section §321.446 1. a and 1. b, a child who is at least one year of age or weighs 20 pounds or more can go forward-facing.

But it’s not the safest practice. According to the research and experts, a rear-facing position is the safest for infants and toddlers younger than 2 years of age.

Parents should keep using a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the upper height or weight limit recommended by the manufacturer.

What is the law in Iowa for booster seats?

Iowa law doesn’t specifically mention booster car seats or the age when your child can use a booster car seat.

It indicates in the explanation of Section §321.446 7 in the law that a child restraint system includes a booster seat. While the law says that a child under 6 years of age is required to travel with a child restraint system.

It’s best to use a booster seat once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat around the age of 5 or 6.

Boosters are intended to lift the child up off the vehicle seat to improve the fit of the adult lap and shoulder seatbelt.

So it’s a good idea to keep using a booster seat until the seat belt fits your child properly.

Does a 6-year-old need a car seat in Iowa?

That depends. The law section §321.446 2 says that children age 6 or older should use a child restraint system or a seat belt. If your child grows bigger than their peers and the seat belt can fit he or she properly, then he or she does not need a car seat and is big enough to use the vehicle’s seat belt like an adult.

Does an 8-year-old need a booster seat in Iowa?

That depends. The reason is the same as above. If an 8-year-old child can wear a seat belt correctly, then he or she does not need a booster seat or other child restraint devices. Otherwise, the child should keep using a booster until they’re tall enough to be secured with a seat belt.

Seat Belt Laws for Child in Iowa

The Iowa law in section §321.446 2 makes it clear that children who are at least 6 years of age but less than 18 years old shall be secured with a child restraint system or a safety belt based on the car seat and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.

The law states the minimum age regulations of 6 years old to use a seat belt.

But it’s not the best practice. You should keep using a booster seat for your child until they’re within the safety limit of their booster seats.

Penalty for Breaking Car Seat Laws in Iowa

Violating the Iowa rules to properly secure a child in the child restraint system is punishable by a fine of $100.

Iowa Car Seat Laws Apply for

The drivers have the responsibility to make sure a child passenger’s safe in the car.


  • a. Peace officers acting on official duty.
  • b. Motor vehicles were manufactured in 1965 model year or older, authorized emergency vehicles, buses, or motor homes, or motorsports recreational vehicles.
  • c. A child with a medical reason
  • d. A back seat occupant of a motor vehicle for whom no safety belt is available because all safety belts are being used by other occupants or cannot be used due to the use of a child restraint system in the seating position for which a belt is provided.

When can a child sit in the front seat in Iowa?

The Iowa law does not say when can a child sit in the front seat.

But it is recommended that you consider having your child in the front seat safe after the age of 12.

Experts suggest that the back seat is the safest for children under 12 years old.

Taxi Car Seat Law in Iowa

Taxis are exempt from following the Iowa law on the child restraint system. It’s the parents’ responsibility to take care of the child’s safety, not the taxi driver’s.

Age, Weight, Height Requirements in Iowa Law

The Iowa car seat laws give several hard age and weight requirements, but they’re not strict to follow the NHTSA’s four-car seat stages anyway. You may check the difference below:

Iowa rules:

Rear-facing (stage 1): under one year of age, less than 20 pounds

Forward-facing or booster (stage 2 and 3): under 6 years old

Seat belt (stage 4): at least 6 but less than 18 years old

Best Car Seats to Work with Iowa Laws

Rear-Facing Car Seat for Infants and Small Toddlers

Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller

Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller Combo

More than this Doona car seat and stroller combo, there are a few excellent options available for riding infants in rear-facing. But not all will perform as well as it to allow 1-year-old infants to face the back for this long time, Chicco KeyFit 30 for example, features a low 30-lb weight limit that might not go through the first year. 

Forward-Facing for Big Toddlers and Preschoolers

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit

This convertible car seat is great enough to meet the parent’s need to ride their kids in the rear- and front-facing for a longer time. It features 50-lb rear-facing weight limit to be one of the best rear-facing car seats for 2 years old.

When using it facing front, the 65-lb weight limit makes it go through the preschool ages – 3 years old, 4 years old, and 5 years old.

Booster Seats for Big Kids

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster


The Graco TurboBooster is the most popular and best budget car seat to meet the State Law to ride older children, six or seven years old, or even bigger. While six years of age is relatively younger than other states’ eight years of age requirement, it’s sooner for Alabama children to get rid of a car seat.