Can you imagine being a parent in the 1950s and tucking your tot into this contraption? At least it had a toy steering wheel so baby could play front-seat driver (probably not wise, lest in a few years he attempt to start the car, a Buick Super Riviera Hardtop, and drive using the real thing).

Today, we know that kids, and their car seats, should go in the back of the car, not the front. That small kids should face backward, not forward. And that the safest car seats have a five-point harness (this one appears to use a no-point harness).

Until the 1960s, child car seats were meant to simply contain the child in the car so they couldn’t horse around — they weren’t necessarily intended to keep kids safe. But in the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted the first federal standards for child seating systems. And by 1985, all 50 states passed child passenger safety laws that required restraint systems to protect infants and children under 5 years old.

Today’s car seats are fairly complicated things. Choosing a car seat has gotten trickier, and many people use them wrong without knowing it. But they sure save a lot of lives.

Angela is a Pulitzer Prize-winning digital editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and information to audiences worldwide. Prior to joining SafeBee, she was the features editor for Boston.com at The Boston Globe, overseeing health, travel, entertainment, business and lifestyle coverage. Before moving to features, she was the news and homepage editor, covering stories such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Red Sox World Series victories, presidential elections, a papal inauguration, and more. Her favorite safety tip: Clean your phone! The average cell phone has 18 times more germs than the toilet handle in a men’s restroom.