Thanksgiving is less than a month away and Iowa has some car seat laws you need to know before you hit the road with the fam.

Traveling with kids isn't easy and I will admit I never made holiday travel smooth for my parents as a kid (sorry fams). Flying is still expensive, but the gas price has gone down since the summer, so you might be considering driving to your in-laws' house for Thanksgiving with the kids in tow.

Of course, road trip prep necessities include snacks and stuff to keep the kids entertained (Advil for you, since they will likely drive you crazy after hours in the car) but there are also some car seat rules in Iowa that you must ensure are in place before leaving.


If you violate Iowa's Child Restraint Law, you could get smacked with a $195 fine. 

We definitely don't want that so here are some important laws you need to know as you're planning your Thanksgiving travels.

Little Ones Under 1 Year Must Be In Rear-Facing Car Seat

Iowa law says that kids under 1 year old and less than 20 pounds must be in an "approved rear-facing child restraint system" and they should remain in that kind of car seat for as long as possible. Follow the car seat manufacturer's guidelines on age/weight.

Car Seats Are A Thing Until The Kid Is 6

A seat belt alone doesn't count as a "child restraint system" in Iowa so don't try that. It has to be an approved car seat or booster seat in Iowa if the child is under 6. They may have to stay past the age of 6 though. In Iowa, it's a 4'9" minimum for the kid to use a seatbelt without a booster seat.


Iowa DOT Recommends You Keep The Kid In The Back Seat

It's not specifically a law but it's a recommendation and probably a good idea. According to Travel Car Seat Mom, the Iowa DOT recommends that you keep kids under 12 in the back seat and not in front of an active airbag. You would likely have the littles in the back anyway if you're road-tripping as a family and you need someone to help you navigate.

Kids 6-17 Must Be Restrained In The Car Somehow

This should go without saying because obviously, you should be wearing your seatbelt too. But however the child is seated, in a car seat, booster seat, or with neither, they have to be restrained.

Where You Would Get In Trouble

You might face a citation if: the kid is under 3 and isn't in a car seat, the kid is between 3-6 and isn't in a booster or car seat, the kid is 6 or older and isn't wearing a seatbelt in the front seat.

You can see tips to fasten your child's car seat here.

Meanwhile, happy travels this season and may your sanity stay intact.

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