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Law Abiding Kid-izens

Sep 28, 2017, 13:46 PM

Baby boy in car seatCar seat safety is a recurring hot topic in the parenting realm, particularly with the perpetuation of social media and the ever-critical court of public opinion. There seems to be trend growing that airs more on the side of caution than even the car seat requirements enforceable by law. GRMC offers car seat safety checks at the medical center to ensure that parents in the communities we serve are choosing the safest, most effective car seat seats and positions possible.

Comparing  the car seat laws in Iowa versus recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are several noticeable differences. How do these differences impact the choices parents must make about car seat installation and safety?

  • Iowa law – A child under one year old who weighs less than 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system.
  • AAP – All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.
  • Iowa law – A child under six years old must be secured in a safety seat or booster seat. A seat belt alone is not appropriate.
  • AAP – Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat (toddlers and preschoolers) should use a forward facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer.
  • Iowa law – Children between six and 11 years old must be secured in a child restraint system or by a safety belt.
  • AAP – All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat (school-aged children) should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are eight through 12 years of age. All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
  • Iowa law – All children under 18 years old must wear a seat belt.
  • AAP – When children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use lap and should seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.

These differences can make a big difference in the car seat safety choices parents make for their children; while they may be following the law, it may not be the safest or most appropriate choice for their child(ren).

Parents, when making choices about which car seat is the safest option for your child(ren), vehicle, and lifestyle, we recommend that you do your research. There are many tools available, including car seat safety checks at GRMC, that can help you with your decision-making, installation, and overall vehicular safety tips.

Car Seats: Information for Families. (2017, July 18).

Traffic Safety Laws in Iowa. (2017).