How Long Can Baby Sit in Car Seat


Being a parent, our main concern is the safety and health of our kids. While traveling, infant car seats are safer and more innovative. But, with many rules and regulations around them, things can be a little confusing about how long an infant can sit in a car seat?

Parents should not keep their infant in the car seat for more than 120 minutes. Every state has its law to prevent any damage to newborns or children up to 3 years old. Sitting for a long time can harm the developing spine of a baby. The two-hour rule prevents breathing issues in newborns.

We have done complete research to keep you updated with the essential information. Have a look at everything you should know about car seats while traveling with a toddler.

Is There Any Law About Car Seats?

Yes, Every state has its law. 
Car Seat Law (Title 21 Section 4803) emphasizes that “Children should be appropriately restrained in a federally approved child safety seat appropriate for the child’s age, weight, and height. 
This height and weight limit will also indicate when to upgrade to a baby car seat cot for parents. 

How Long Can a Newborn be in a Car Seat?

Parents should never let the newborn sit in a “rear-facing bucket-style seat” for two hours. The maximum limit is 2 hours in a single day.

It is advised not to leave your child alone in the vehicle.

The Two Hour Rule – Safety is the priority.

Car seat cot manufacturers recommend the two-hour rule. It mainly restricts caregivers from not letting babies sit for a comprehensive period.

Usually, such safety seats are designed to keep the baby in a semi-upright position.

What Happens When Parents Keep Toddlers in Car Seat Cots for a Long Time?

A prolonged period will affect your kid’s health. The more severe issues can be

  • Damage to the baby’s developing spine.
  • Lessor restricted airflow to the infant’s lungs.
  • Breathing problems.

Why Should Parents Follow the Two Hour Rule?

To prevent any damage to newborn health, parents should strictly follow this rule.


This time limit negates the threat of breathing problems and several other health issues.

The adverse health consequences were more significant when the infants were seated at 40° than at 30°.

Car Seats Recommend Time for Children.

Have a look at the recommended types by the U.S Department of Transportation.

Type Age Duration
Rear-FacingBirth – 12 Months120 Minutes
Forward-Facing1 – 3 Years120 Minutes
Booster Seat4 – 7 Years120 Minutes
Seat BeltUp to 8 YearsMax 3 Hours a Day

Rear-Facing Cot.

A newborn should always travel in the rear-facing car seat cot. According to the information by NHTSA, parents can use such a cot for up to 3 years. 

It is suggested to buckle the newborn properly.

You can’t put the cot on the front seat yet.

Forward Facing

Once your child outgrows the infant car seat, you can move to the forward-facing baby car crib. It comes with two belts. 

Make sure not to cross the neck while fitting the shoulder belt.

Keep the crib in the back still.

Booster Seat.

For safety concerns, you’re still going to ride in the car with the baby in the back. Convertible baby car seats are the best option at this age. 

Remember the time lime rule is still the same; 120 minutes max.

Seat Belt.

Most U.S states allow children up to 8 years to travel with a seat belt.


Once your baby can fit into the seat belt, buckle up the proper fitting, and in the meantime, you can drive safely.

Is It Ok If My Baby Sleeps In a Car Seat Cot?

We won’t recommend it. But, It depends on your personal preference. 
When traveling with a newborn by car, it is expected that the baby can fall asleep. Make sure to keep an eye on the baby in such a situation.

Safety Tips To Prevent SIDS or Crib Death.

Follow our safety tips to prevent any Sudden infant death syndrome.

  • Don’t put any stuffed animals nearby.
  • Avoid loose bedding and heavy blankets.
  • Ensure a fat surface for infant sleep.
  • Avoid pillows.
  • Keep your newborn on the priority list.

Never let your newborn sleep in a crib overnight.

What We Recommend for Your Regular Road Trips.

We all have to travel for an extended period. So, if you are traveling for a prolonged period with a newborn. Here is our top-picked car seat that will make your experience easier. 

Graco SlimFit.

A perfect example of one size fits all. You can use it in three different modes as your newborn grows. 

The four-position recline and steel-Reinforced frame allow you to find a perfect fit for the little angel. 

It is currently ranking at #1 in Child Safety Booster Car Seats on Amazon.

  • Max Weight Limit: 100 pounds.
  • Height Recommendation: 57 Inches

The space-saving slim design is also suitable for small cars and vehicles. No wonder the Graco Car Seat is the hot seller and the most convenient choice for new parents.

Things To Remember While On Road With Baby.

According to a survey, 58% of the caregivers don’t even know about the baby’s two-hour rule. Remember your child’s health is your first concern. 

  1. According to the U.S transportation law, you must keep the baby’s car seat cot at the back.
  2. If possible. Travel with another adult to ensure a smooth trip.
  3. Plan and take a break after several hours if you’re on a long go.
  4. Don’t feed or pump breast milk while driving. 
  5. Pack emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, blanket, and baby food.

Laws are for your safety and protection. Once you reach your destination, don’t let the baby sit in it any moment longer. Then for durability, protect the crib with a car seat cover.

Wrapping it Up

There are only a few things to keep in mind before hitting the road with the baby: the 2-hour limit and the short breaks during the long trips. 
Don’t let your infant sleep overnight in a convertible car seat. To prevent any fatal injury, keeping the cot back away from the airbags is recommended. 

Malissa Carter
We are so blessed to have her majesty, a.k.a the queen of 4 the love of mommy “Malissa.” She was born in 1962. Got married to Murphy in 1983. She is an expert mom with the experience of almost 40 years of motherhood.