Never ride in the cargo area of a station wagon, van, or pickup! Anyone riding in the cargo area could be thrown out and severely injured or killed.
No one seat is 'best', The 'best' child safety seat is the one that fits your child and can be installed correctly.
Children age 12 and under should ride properly restrained in back.
CHOOSING AND USING THE CORRECT SEAT
New child safety seats and booster seats come with registration cards. Be sure to register your new seat so you will be notified if there is a recall. If you don't have a card, call the safety seat manufacturer.
Birth to 1 year
WEIGHT: Up to 35 pounds
TYPE OF SEAT: Infant-only (A) or Rear-facing Convertible (B)
DIRECTION TO FACE: Infants should ride rear-facing to at least 1 year of age AND at least 20 pounds, longer if possible. The seat should be at a 30-45 degree angle to keep the child's head from falling forward. Do not tip it too far back or the child could come out of the seat in a crash.
NOTE: Infants who outgrow a smaller infant-only seat before 1 year of age should ride rear-facing in a child safety seat with a higher rear-facing weight limit (over 22 pounds).
Over 1 year to 4 years old
WEIGHT: Over 20 pounds, up to 40 pounds
TYPE OF SEAT: Convertible or Forward-Facing Only seat
DIRECTION TO FACE: A child over 1 year of age AND over 20 pounds may ride facing forward. Use the upright position or the position recommended by the manufacturer.
NOTE: Keep the child in a child safety seat with a full harness as long as possible, preferably until 4 years old. For children 40 pounds or more who are too young or too active to sit still in a booster seat, or if a vehicle has only lap belts, look for child restraints with harnesses labeled for use over 40 pounds.
4 to 8 years old
WEIGHT: Over 40 pounds
TYPE OF SEAT: Belt-positioning Booster Seat, backless (D) or high-back (C)
DIRECTION TO FACE: Forward-Facing
NOTE: All children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4' 9" tall.
WARNING: The back seat is the safest place in a crash. Children age 12 and under should ride properly restrained in back. Infants riding rear-facing must NEVER be placed in front of an airbag.