Your questions: Car seat advice for visit to California from India

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I had recently noticed a jump in readership from India for some reason (thank you – and welcome!), and while I’ve heard from many parents planning travel TO the subcontinent (to visit relatives or simply enjoy travel), it is fun to have my first official question from a parent IN India planning travel to my home state of California. Some tips of mine follow, but parents please feel free to add your own!

Hi Shelly,

we are traveling to USA next month…my son is 1yr11m old…he is not much used to sit in the carseat…he starts crying if we try to make him sit…and we are traveling to California where carseat is compulsory….kindly suggest me some alternative?? what is the law for tourist regarding carseat in California?? Otherwise it will be very much difficult for us to enjoy our holidays…waiting for reply!

Thx & regards,


The California state laws for anyone driving a passenger car, whether they own it or rent it for vacation, require that all children under 8 years old ride in the back seat in an appropriate child safety seat or safety booster seat (or FMVSS 213 certified travel vest – which I’m afraid will not work for your very young child).

Note: This law does not apply to “for hire” vehicles, such as taxis or airport shuttle vans, and it also does not apply to passengers using public transportation such as city buses, trams, etc. In these situations infants and small children are not required to ride in car seats. More info in this post.

If you plan to rent a car for your family’s vacation in California, or to ride in a private car with relatives or friends, your child will need to be secured in car seat (you may rent one from the car rental agency, but you may have better options and control over what you get by using a baby gear rental agency – directory here – which might have other helpful things for your visit, too). How can you try to make this more tolerable for your  nearly-2-year-old?

Here are a few suggestsions:

  • First, show him you ALL must wear seatbelts in California (and yes, that’s the law)
  • Place his car seat in the center of the back seat, if in a sedan, so he can hopefully have a better view of where you are going
  • Take turns riding with him in the back seat to keep him company and help keep him entertained
  • Make comparisons with rocket ships and astronauts each time he prepares for take off in his “explorer capsule”
  • Keep good travel toys available during driving times-designate at least one or two favorite toys that are only to enjoy in the car 😉 (See some ideas here.)
  • You might want to pick up a “travel tray” to give him a place to set the toys, snacks, books, and color pictures in the car (you can buy a little playdough to use on it, too!)
  • Have several small snacks available you can offer when needed
  • If you’ll be doing a lot of driving around the state, take long breaks where he can get some exercise
  • Use the “Entertainment to Go” tips and ideas as needed in Take-Along Travels with Baby (available in ebook edition with mobile formats – the jetlag tips may help, too!).

Hope this helps! Other parents have ideas to suggest? Best of luck with your adventure, and if you’re still looking for ideas, you can see some of our favorite California recommendations here.

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Got a travel dilemma of your own? Email me your question (or quandary) or post to the facebook page. Here we go!

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli

Author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby   facebook   twitter   about the author   

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