How Long Can a Toddler Sit in a Car Seat?

How Long Can a Toddler Sit in a Car Seat

Traveling with kids can be quite a challenge. For children, it is difficult to keep themselves busy on a long road trip. As a parent, you might worry about their comfort and safety during the journey. Toddlers are required to travel in an approved car seat. In this article, we will discuss the different car seats and find out how long you can drive in one go without taking your toddler out of the car seat.

How long can a toddler sit in a car seat? Although the answer to this question can differ, the guideline is two hours. As you probably know, standing or lying in a fixed position for too long is never good. For kids, this is no different. Regular stretching is crucial!

Kids in different age groups ask for different approaches and suitable car seats. Later in this article, we will have a look at multiple kinds of car seats. We will also look into some tips to make the road trip with your toddler a great success, as we know that it definitely can be a great way to spend your family holiday.

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How Long in a Car Seat?


There is the so-called ‘2-hour rule. This rule states that a child can’t sit in their car seat for longer than two hours. Although this is a decent guideline, it is not suitable for every situation. For example, when traveling with a newborn baby, two hours is quite long. It is wise to take out your baby every 30 minutes. Although this might be slowing down your journey, your baby’s physical comfort and development should be your number one priority. We advise you not to travel long distances with a newborn. In the first few weeks, they are too fragile and need too much close attention. For a baby that is already a few months old, it is easier to drive long distances. Depending on their needs, you might have to take them out more often than once every two hours. We advise you to let your baby’s behavior guide your breaks.

On average, all babies above twelve months old are just fine with a break every two hours. This way, they get plenty of time to stretch and find new energy. However, it is crucial to provide your child with plenty of entertainment. Otherwise, these two hours might be very long. You can take their favorite toy, stuffed animals, or movie. Always carry a blanket, in case they want to take a nap. This is, of course, the ideal situation!


Toddlers are old enough to spend two hours in their car seats. It is great advice to take them out every two hours for physical exercise. However, if your toddler is asleep for a few hours (let’s say three or four), you don’t have to wake them up. Their bodies are strong enough, and it does not cause them any harm to sit in a car seat for more than 2 hours.

Older kids (on a booster seat)

When your child is tall enough to use a booster seat, they can drive in it for more than two hours. Although it is good to get out of the car every few hours for some exercise, a child in a booster seat is not in any danger when you drive a few hours in a row.

What Is The Best Car Seat for a Toddler?

As mentioned before, every age group requires a different kind of car seat. Overall, kids under the age of two must drive in a rear-facing car seat. It is the safest position for them in case of an accident. When your baby grows up to become a toddler, he can make the switch to drive in a forward-facing car seat.

To decide which car seat is suitable for your child, it all comes to the length of your kid. A toddler who is tall for his age will need to convert to a bigger car seat faster than a peer who is a lot shorter. When your child outgrows the regular car seat, it will be ready for a booster seat. We will tell you more about the booster seat later on in this article.

Why does a young child have to drive in a rear-facing seat?

Now, you might wonder why your child has to drive in a rear-facing car seat. Let’s be honest, it isn’t the coziest position. However, there is a legit safety reason for this. A car seat in this position will absorb most of the crash in case of an accident. It supports the head, neck, and spine. It prevents the head from being thrown forward in case of a crash. As young babies are still in development, this might cause them
physical discomfort or even long-lasting problems in the future. A toddler’s muscles are more developed and therefore strong enough to use a front-facing car seat.

When can my child go from a regular car seat to a booster seat?

regular car seat and booster seat

At a certain age, children are allowed to drive in a booster seat. A booster seat is a seat elevation, which causes the child to sit a bit higher. A higher position is required for the seat belt to align with the chest and pelvis. When your child is too small and drives without a booster seat, the seat belt might lie across the neck and belly instead, which can cause physical damage in case of a hit.

The average age to move on to a booster seat is six years old. However, it is more determined by height than age. Although different countries have different rules, the basic rule is simple. When your child reaches the maximum height and weight of the regular car seat, it is ready to move on to a booster seat. The average length is 4 feet and 9 inches, which comes down to 140 centimeters. A child is usually somewhere between the age of 7 and 12 when they reach this height. Overall, 90 pounds is the heaviest weight for most car seats. Booster seats can hold up to 130 pounds.

How do you keep a toddler occupied on a long car ride?

You might wonder how to keep your toddler, who is full of energy, occupied on a long road trip? Luckily, there are lots of tips and tricks to get you through the process. Down below are some of our best tips.

Bring entertainment

It is crucial to bring plenty of entertainment in different forms. It is good to bring their favorite stuffed animal or toy. However, educational entertainment is also a good option. Consider books or audiobooks, as they can be both fun and educational.

Play games

Kids love to play games. It can be a great way to bond with the family, and it kills time. The game can involve the destination or things you see on the right. For inspiration on games to play in the car, read our article “Things to do in a car”!

Plenty of food

A hungry child is not a happy child. Therefore, always take plenty of food. Of course, water is one of the most important things. Furthermore, it is good to make sandwiches and take lots of fruit. Although you are on a road trip, you’re going to want to stick to your healthy routine. However, a few snacks never hurt anybody! Take some snacks for the whole family, and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

For more information on how to take a toddler on a long car ride, check out this


Artur is originally from Poland and he frequently drives up there to visit his friends and family. Besides, he occasionally visits his friends, who live in different European countries. Over the years, he became an expert when it comes to traveling by car. There is no road trip that is too long to drive!

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