A Parent’s Guide to Missouri Child Car Seat Laws

Did you know that National Child Passenger Safety Week occurs each September? As a parent, you might think you’re all covered here, but data suggests that nearly half of all children’s car seats are installed incorrectly, which increases the risk of infant injury or death by up to 71%.

At Pappas Toyota, we wanted to do our part and help parents understand the ins and outs of Missouri’s child car seat laws. Here’s everything you need to know about the state’s rules regarding booster seats, infant seats, and general child safety seats by age, height, and weight.

Car Seat

What are the children’s safety seat laws in MO?

All children through the age of 4 years should be fastened in an appropriate car seat—including a rear-facing car seat, convertible seat, forward-facing seat, or booster seat—for their weight, height, and age. Missouri’s laws state the following:

  • Children less than 4 years old or less than 40 pounds must be in an appropriate child safety seat.
  • Children ages 4 through 7 who weigh at least 40 pounds must be in an appropriate child safety seat or booster seat unless they are 80 pounds or 4’9″ tall.
  • Children 8 and over or weighing at least 80 pounds or at least 4’9” tall are required to be secured by a safety belt or buckled into an appropriate booster seat.

Is it against the law for a child to ride in the front seat?

According to the CDC, any child under the age of 13 years should be buckled in the back seat only. In fact, Toyota engineers themselves suggest only adults sit in the front seat as deployed airbags have been known to injure younger children.

Will I get arrested if my child isn’t in the correct car seat for their age, height, or weight?

It’s difficult to say; however, there is a $50 fine, in addition to court fees on first-time offenses, if you’re ticketed for improperly restraining your child. You should seek advice from a lawyer or the Missouri Transportation Department in your county.

Why can’t I put my infant car seat in the front?

You should never put an infant car seat, rear-facing or otherwise, in the front passenger seat. Airbags have enough force to severely injure infants, toddlers, and younger children—as well as pets. Essentially, the only safe place to put your child is in the back.

Where is the safest spot to put an infant car seat?

Always position your baby or toddler in the back seat, preferably in the middle row if you’re able to. This ensures they’re away from the rear-side airbags. If you’re unable to place your infant carseat in the middle of the back row – this is sometimes a problem with Honda vehicles, as they have oddly shaped middle seats – the best option is one of the side seats in the back row.

When can a child face forward in a car seat in Missouri?

Missouri states that parents should use a rear-facing car seat for their child until they turn 1 year of age (or reach 20 pounds). From age 1 to age 4, children can be buckled into a convertible or forward-facing children’s safety seat.

However, Federal guidelines suggest using a rear-facing car seat until your child reaches age 4 years (or until they meet the maximum weight and height limit recommended by the car seat manufacturer). A forward-facing car seat can be swapped in when the child is age 5 years or when they’ve outgrown the rear-facing child seat.

When can my child stop using a booster seat in Missouri?

From ages 4 to 7 years, children should be in a booster seat. This holds true if they’re between 40 and 80 pounds or shorter than 4’ 9” in height.

However, the CDC suggests keeping your child in a booster seat until they’re 9-to-12 years of age – or until the seat belt fits properly (when the lap belt lays on the lap and shoulder belt crosses the chest).

Are backless booster seats legal?

In some countries, there were reports that backless booster seats would be banned due to their lack of protection. However, this is not the case in America. Backless booster seats are 100% legal and quite safe..

Are Missouri car seat laws stricter than other states?

In fact, Missouri’s child safety seat laws are quite lax compared to those in other states. Just across the border from St. Louis, for instance, Illinois’s Child Passenger Protection Act requires all kids under the age of 2 years to ride in a rear-facing child car seat, and children under the age of 8 years to be fastened in at least a booster seat. If you travel east into Kansas, the laws are even more restrictive: children must be in a rear-facing seat until age 4 years.

Will someone from your dealership help me install a car seat?

Although many of our salespeople and service techs are parents, they aren’t certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technicians. We’d be glad to help you get your car seat installed when you lease or buy a new Toyota from us, but we strongly suggest having your children’s car seat installed, inspected, and checked by a professional. Click here for a list of car seat inspection stations in St. Louis.

What’s the safest vehicle for kids?

There are dozens of vehicles that provide excellent protection for children, so choosing one will depend upon your list of must-haves and can’t-do-withouts.

If you’re in need of a safe car, we suggest taking a look at the newest Toyota Camry or Toyota Avalon. If you’d like something a little larger to satiate your road-trip hunger, it’s hard to do better than the Toyota RAV4. All three of these new Toyota models received Top Safety Pick+ awards from the IIHS, thanks in part to Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.0’s suite of features, such as Road Sign Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent Clearance Sonar, and more.

To schedule a Toyota test drive in St. Louis, contact our trusted Pappas Toyota dealership at (636) 928-1212. And bring the whole family to try out all the cool features inside your favorite new Toyota! We’re located at 10011 Spencer Rd in St. Peters, MO, just a short drive from St. Louis and St. Charles.



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