Can You Put a Car Seat in the Front Seat? – The Definitive Answer


Yes and No it depends on car seat laws in the state you’re living in…

Since I have three lovely devils under my roof and a couple of state switches I needed to get up to date fast with car seat laws.

Can You Put a Car Seat in the Front Seat?

The good news is that in most states there are no specific laws that prohibit moving your child to the front seat. Also, I’ve gone through all the laws in every state and I’ve listed all those that don’t allow it or there are restrictions.

Let’s get to the bottom of this already!


Dangers of riding in the front seat for young children

Riding in the front seat of a car can be dangerous for your child. Here’s why:

  • The airbag can hit them and cause serious injury
  • There is less protection from side impacts because the side of their head is more exposed to oncoming traffic

The airbag is the biggest issue of them all. Even though it’s designed to keep you safe it was designed for adults so kids can get seriously injured or worse when they deploy.

If the state laws allow the use of the front seat then make sure you deactivate the passenger side airbag. If that’s not possible then you have to move the seat way back so the airbag won’t touch it.

Plus in case of an accident glass shards will be flying and your child might not be as protected as if they were riding in the back.

Life stages and car seat safety

Stage 1: Birth to age 2

In stage one your child is riding in rear-facing mode. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your little one in rear-facing mode as long as possible since this provides the most protection.

In many states, you can put a carrier on the front seat facing backward. Make sure the airbag is turned off or you risk injury.

Stage 2: Ages 2 to 8 (or older)

If you’re absolutely sure that it’s time to move it in front-facing mode then you best option is a convertible car seat.

At age three we have moved out eldest in the front so I can take care of our second born.

Stage 3: Ages 8 to 12

It’s pretty much the last stage and it’s the high back booster or simply just booster seat stage. Now the securing is done by the belt.

Older than 13

Kids that are older than 13 years old the car seat can be removed if they have the necessary height for the car seat belt.

List of states that limit front seat use

Every state has a car seat law and while most have no specific laws here are a few states that made it clear if you can’t or only in certain exceptions you can put your child on the front seat.


Location in car: Children must be in the back seat until age 8 when available. Rear-facing seats should never be placed in the front seat with an active air bag.


Location in car: Children must be restrained in the rear seat until the child is 65 inches tall or 12 years old.


Location in car: Children 8 years of age or younger must ride in the back seat. If the back seat is occupied by other passengers your child may ride in the front seat, provided he or she is secured in a booster or child safety seat.


Location in car: Children who are younger than 13 must be transported in the rear seat of the vehicle, when available.


Location in car: Children under 12 years old and who weigh less than 100 lbs. must be properly secured in the back seat of the vehicle, if possible.


Location in car: Children under 4 should be in a rear seat if possible.


Location in car: Children 7 and younger must be in rear seat.


Location in car: Younger than 2 must be in back seat.

New Jersey

Location in car: Children under the age of 8 and less than 57 inches should ride in back seat, if available.

New Mexico

Location in car: Children younger than 1 year in a rear-facing child restraint must be in the rear seat.

North Carolina

Location in car: Children less than 5 and 40 pounds must be secured in the rear seat of the vehicle, unless the child restraint system is designed for use with air bags.

Rhode Island

Location in car: Children younger than 8 must sit in the rear seat, if available.

South Carolina

Location in car: Children under the age of 8 must sit in the rear seat, if available.


Location in the car: Children 8 and younger and less than 57 inches must be in rear seat, if available. The rear seat is recommended for children ages 9 to 12.


Location in car: Children under the age of 1 must be in the rear seat, if available, and if in front must have an airbag turned off.


Location in car: Rear-facing child restraint devices must be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. In the event the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger-side airbag or the passenger-side airbag has been deactivated.


Location in car: Children under 13 years old be transported in the back seat where it is practical to do so.


Location in car: Children younger than 4 ride in the back seat, if available.


Location in car: Children under the age of 8 are required to be in the back seat, if available.

If you haven’t found your state on the list above it means that there are no specific rules. In this case, you need to look at the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Conclusions on if and when a car seat goes in the front seat

We have looked at a variety of states that have laws limiting the use of car seats in the front seat. The general consensus is that it is safer for children to be in the backseat, although there are some exceptions.

We also looked at the manufacturer’s recommendations for car seats. Most manufacturers recommend that the appropriate car seat be used in the backseat.

There are however some seats that can go on the front seat. It is important to check your car seat’s manual before placing it on either side of the car or in the front seat.

I would love if you would share my article so you can help others looking for this information. As always if you have questions let me know.

Frequently Asked Questions:

When can my child sit in the front seat?

A child can sit in the front seat, but only if certain circumstances are met. It is safest for them if the airbag is disabled, the state laws permit it and the manufacturer approve front seat use.

When can baby face forward in car seat?

Generally, manufacturers say it is best to put a rear-facing child restraint in the backseat. However if the car only has one back seat, there are special seats that can be used in front.

Last Updated on October 18, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!