Did you know New Jersey has the strictest child safety seat laws in the United States? If you have young children you do. In 2015 the laws got ridiculously restrictive here. That's the same year my wife and I had our first boy together. In 2017 we had our second son.

So in New Jersey the law became that you had to have your child remain rear-facing and in a 5 point harness until age 2 and 30 pounds. This means no matter how cramped the child is, no matter if he or she has to ride with knees bent even up to their chest and feet pressed into the seat back, you have to make them ride this way or suffer the consequences.

And there are consequences.

You can get up to a $75 fine each time. In the year following the change in the law over 6,000 tickets were written.

Now a child under age 4 and 40 pounds has to remain either rear-facing or in a forward-facing car seat that still has that five-point harness. You're certainly not allowed to use a boost yet even if you have an exceptionally tall child and you also can't use the kind of car seat that uses the car's own shoulder belts. Again, you'll get fined.

I bring this up because that son I mentioned born in 2017 isn't 2 years old until March 9. Yet for some time now he's been smooshed in that rear-facing seat, with legs forced up and bent. What's significant is that he is not a tall child. My wife is only 5 feet and he takes after her side of the family for height. I believe at his last pediatric checkup he's only 15th on the percentile chart. Yet there he is, clearly already uncomfortable and he still has over a month left before I can legally turn him around.

Am I going to wait? What about parents of children who are much taller? Are they waiting? Or have they decided what was legal in 2014 should be good enough now and put their child's comfort about the risk of the fine? If a child as short as ours is already uncomfortable I'd have to think there are some parents who feel they literally have no choice but to break the law and have their kid forward-facing.

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