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Children's Car Seats

A car seat allows children to be safely transported in a motor vehicle. Children with disabilities may require additional postural support in their car seat. There are also car seats which are available to accommodate children of larger heights and weights, who require additional support offered by a car seat. When fitting a car seat for a child with a disability, an occupational therapist can assist with finding the most appropriate car seat for the child’s needs and modifying the car seat if required (within regulations). National Child restraint laws specify that up to the age of seven years, children must be restrained in a child car seat or restraint appropriate for their age and size. All children’s car seats must meet Australian Standards. Car seats designed for children with a disability or medical condition must meet an additional set of Australian Standards and guidelines.

Factors to Consider:

  • There are different standards for each state. Contact the Road Safety Commission or Department of Transport for specific safety regulations for car seats in your state.
  • There are different types of car seats i.e. rear facing, forward facing and booster seats. Each is appropriate for different ages. For example in Western Australia an infant up to 6 months must be in a rear facing car seat.
  • Ensure the size and weight limits for the car seat are checked.
  • The harness buckle on the car seat should be stiff enough that the child cannot unbuckle them.
  • Consider the contact points between the child and the car seat. 5 point harnesses on car seats have straps over the shoulders, hips and between the legs. 3 point harnesses have straps that go over the shoulders and between the legs. The more points of contact on a car seat with a child the greater the support and distribution of pressure.

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