Car trips should be a positive experience for you and your child. It is a good time for pleasant conversation and teaching your child how to behave in the car. Correct placement in an approved child restraint device is the safest way for your child to travel, even for short trips.
For kids more than a year old and between 20 and 40 pounds, you will need a forward-facing car seat. Read the directions that come with the car seat. Kids between 40 and 80 pounds and less than 4 foot 9 inches tall can use a booster seat. A booster seat makes lap and shoulder belts fit correctly over the upper thighs and hips and over the shoulder. Seat belts can be used for children over 80 pounds and taller than 4 feet 9 inches tall.
At any age, put the safety seat in the back seat of the car. It is much safer than the front seat. If your car has an airbag on the passenger side of the front seat, never place your child in the front seat. The airbag can actually hurt young children.
It is illegal for a child to ride in the car without being securely buckled into a safety seat. It is illegal because it is very, very dangerous. Please do what is best for your child--use a safety seat during every car ride.