Sept. 1 marks the one-year anniversary of New Jersey adopting some of the strictest child seat laws in the nation. How's that working out for parents?

This is top of mind for me because our 11-month-old baby boy is already in the 95th percentile for height with feet already hitting the back of the seat and he has more than a year to go before he can be legally forward-facing. The law says it doesn't matter how uncomfortable your child is. If they have to ride with squished legs and knees bent to chest, so be it.

Here's a reminder of the new laws enacted one year ago.

Birth to age 2
Under 2 years old and under 30 pounds your child MUST be in a rear facing car seat with a five-point harness. If you don't care for this idea we'll get to the fines for all these things later. So that means toddlers who are tall must remain rear-facing no matter if their knees and bent and their legs are crammed. Even toddlers who had already been switched to forward-facing and were having conversations with their parents had to be switched backwards again once this law went into effect.

Ages 2 to 4
From age 2 to 4 and under 40 pounds have to either remain rear-facing or be in a forward-facing seat with a five point harness in the back seat. They recommend rear-facing for as long as possible.

Ages 4 to 8
Kids must either remain in a car seat or be put in a booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle until either 57 inches tall or 8 years old.

Age 8 and older
By age 8 a child can sit in a regular seat using the regular adult seat belt. You should be aware NJ law does not specify when a child over 8 can move from the back to the front seat, however the CDC recommends children not be in the front until the age of 13.

The fines
Let's say you're like me and have a child who's exceptionally tall and still under 2 years old. You might be tempted to not have their legs uncomfortably smashed into the back of the seat and turn them forward-facing earlier than the new law allows. Don't do it. The fine for these violations is $75.

Personally I am anticipating a very uncomfortable toddler.

Like I said, at 11 months old he is already 31 and a half inches in height and in the 95th percentile. By age 18 months to 24 months, I think he'll have a close-up view of his knees.

We will comply with the law. I understand they're trying to keep children safe on a scientific level. Rear-facing is the safest way to travel for as long as possible. It's just going to make for some unpleasant family outings when he can start complaining about it.

— Jeff Deminski

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