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Car seat information

Car seats

This material has been put together by the occupational therapists working with the Early Years Team to assist you in buying a suitable car seat for your child.

It is a legal requirement for all parents or carers to provide appropriate car seating for their child. This applies to children with disabilities except in very exceptional circumstances when you doctor may be willing to sign an exception certificate. As a team of occupational therapists, we are not trained to assess or fit car seats and would strongly advise you to seek professional advice and assessment to ensure that your child is adequately protected. It is important to ensure that the car seat is compatible with your car. We hope this material will assist you in making the best choice.

When do I need to change from a baby seat to a larger car seat?

Although very often car seats give a minimum and maximum age approximation, it is the weight guidelines that are the crucial guide to follow. Most baby car seats (group 0 and 0+) will be suitable for children up to 13kg. Children are significantly safer travelling in rearward facing car seats and so we would discourage you from swapping to a forward facing seat until necessary.

How do I know when my child can move to a forward facing seat?

Until your child has developed the skills to sit on the floor independently, you would be advised to continue to sit your child in a rearward facing seat. Extended rearward facing seats (for children up to 18 or 25kg) are gradually becoming more available on the open market and are the safest way to transport your child as they can prevent head and neck injuries in an accident.

Can I get financial help to buy a car seat?

There is no statutory provision for funding of car seats. There are a variety of charities which will help with financial assistance to purchase specialist car seats only. Your occupational therapist will be able to help in providing information about appropriate charities and give you a letter of support for your application. Some charities have a preferred supplier or may ask you to provide two comparable quotes.

Useful contacts

RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents). ‘Transporting Children with Additional Needs’ guide (pdf).

William Merritt Disabled Living Centre, Aire House, 100 Town Street, Rodley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS13 1HP. For impartial specialist advice and assessment with a comprehensive range of car seats. Telephone 0113 350 8989. www.williammerrittleeds.org

In Car Safety Centre, Milton Keynes. Provides a helpline and impartial consultations by appointment. Telephone 01908 220 909. www.incarsafetycentre.co.uk

Disabled Living Foundation, 4th Floor, Jessica House, Red Lion Square, 191 Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 4LS. Produces fact sheets about children’s equipment as well as detailed information on specific items of equipment including car seats. Telephone 0300 7432 8015. www.dlf.org.uk

Crelling Harness, Lancashire. Provides a range of seatbelts and harnesses for children and adults with special needs for postural support, or safety for challenging behaviours. Harnesses are designed for use on vehicle seats, aircraft seats, wheelchairs, stairlifts, bathing and shower seats. They also make a range of walking reins suitable for children and adults. Telephone 01253 852 298. www.crelling.com

The following companies will come to your home to demonstrate and advise you in your choice of specialised car seats

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: OT18

Resource Type: Article

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