Are You Following Missouri’s Child Safety Seat Requirements?

Whether you’re a first-time parent or already have a few little ones running around, child safety is something that’s always a concern. You worry about what your children can get into at home. When you take your child for an outing, you try to plan for every type of potential hazard. 

Something parents may not always consider is child safety and car seats, which is why Missouri child car seat requirements are in place for a very good reason. Failing to meet these requirements can result in steep penalties, and you don’t even want to consider the possible risks to your child’s overall health and safety in the event of an accident.

Missouri Child Safety Seat Requirements

Regardless of whether you’re only driving around the block or heading out for a day of errands, vehicle accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. While you always fasten your seatbelt every time you get behind the wheel, what about your little ones? Your vehicle’s seatbelt system isn’t enough to keep them safe if an accident occurs.

Did you know a child buckled into a car seat is around 71% to 81% safer than if you only use a seat belt? Children in booster seats are around 45% safer than if they only use a seat belt., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If Missouri state law isn’t enough to convince you to use either a car or booster seat, then hopefully, these statistics will.

So, what are Missouri child car seat laws? There are a few requirements that can vary depending on your child’s age, weight, and height.

Missouri Car Seat Laws by Age, Weight, and Height

All children under the age of four must be strapped into a car seat every time they ride in a motor vehicle. This law applies regardless of your child’s weight. Your child must weigh over 40 lbs and be older than four before they can graduate to a booster seat.

All children under the age of 8 must be buckled into a booster seat unless they meet the state’s height and weight requirements to use a seat belt. 

What is the height requirement? Your child must be at least 4’9” to leave the booster seat behind and use the vehicle’s seat belt. This height requirement applies until your child is 16 years of age.

To sum things up:

  • Children 4 and under must use a car seat until they weigh 40 lbs. This means that children over the age of four may still be using a car seat if they don’t meet the weight requirement
  • Your child must use a booster seat until they weigh at least 80 lbs and measure 4’9” or taller

Front and Rear-Facing Car Seats

Surprisingly, Missouri law doesn’t cover when to use a front or rear-facing car seat—however, most infant car seats are designed for rear-facing installation, which means you’re not going to be able to secure the car seat in your vehicle properly if you try to turn it the other way. In other words, you can’t install a rear-facing car seat to face forward since this goes against its design and is unsafe.

Rear-facing car seats are generally considered safer than forward-facing ones since your little one has more protection from vehicle impacts. Chances are, your pediatrician is going to recommend using a rear-facing car seat until your child’s first birthday. Since most infants outgrow their first car seats in the first few months, you may want to consider purchasing a convertible model.

A convertible car seat can start facing the rear, and when you’re child’s ready turn into a forward-facing one. Yes, a convertible car seat may seem pricey but it’s less expensive than you may think. You can usually use a convertible car seat until your child is ready to transition to a booster seat. This way, you only need to buy one car seat.

Even though rear-facing car seats provide a little more protection in a vehicle crash, eventually your child is going to get tired of looking at the back seat. When your child’s ready and is at least a year old, you can consider switching to a forward-facing car seat.

Did you know you can even find all-in-one car seats? This type of car seat starts facing the rear before converting into a front-facing model, and then finally, the car seat converts into a booster seat. 

While initially a little more expensive than a standard rear-facing car seat, in the long run, it can save you time and money. You only need to purchase one car seat until your child’s ready to use the vehicle’s seat belting system.

What are the Potential Penalties for Violating Missouri’s Child Car Seat Safety Laws

Even though your child’s safety should be a priority, sometimes parents forget to buckle their little one in a car seat. If you’re pulled over and your child isn’t restrained in an age, height, and weight-appropriate car seat, you can face a $50 fine.

You may be able to have the fine dismissed if you can show the court you have and are actively using a car seat. However, chances are, you’re going to end up paying the fine and any associated court costs. 

If you receive multiple tickets for failing to properly secure your child in a motor vehicle, your fines may increase. You may also be at risk of receiving a child endangerment charge. Along with paying a hefty fine, you’re also risking potential prison time and losing custody of your children.

Keep Your Child Safe Every Time You’re In a Vehicle

You can’t protect your child from every potential hazard, but you can minimize their risk of injuries in a motor vehicle accident. Following Missouri’s child car seat safety requirements isn’t difficult and it can help save your little one’s life in an accident.

Remember to properly install the car seat in your vehicle, and always use the one that’s right for your child’s age, weight, and height.