All fifty states require that children ride in car safety seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges that all newborns discharged from hospitals be brought home in rear-facing car safety seats. The AAP has established car safety seat guidelines for low–birth-weight infants, which include riding in a rear-facing seat and supporting the infant with ample padding around the sides, outside the harness system. A convertible car safety seat is recommended as a child gets older.
Infants and young children always should ride in car safety seats—preferably in the backseat. Never use a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger-side air bag. An infant or child should never ride in an adult's arms. Children age 12 and younger should ride in the rear seat.
Older children should use booster seats until the vehicle seat belt fits well. This means that the child can sit all the way back on the vehicle seat with knees bent at the edge, the shoulder belt crosses the middle of the chest, the lap belt lies low and snug across the thighs, and the child can sit this way for the entire ride. This position helps avoid injuries to the neck and internal organs from the seatbelt in case of a crash.