There’ll be many occasions when you may wish to take your child out – for short trips to the shops, medical appointments, family outings and holidays. It’s important to consider the safest and most comfortable way to transport your child on a day-to-day basis and also to plan for emergencies.
You can find related information, including about an exemption certificate if a suitable car seat is not possible, in the Living With SMA section: Transport - Car Travel
Page last reviewed / updated: April 2021
Next review due: April 2022
Choosing a Car Seat
For their safety, advice is that all babies and infants are carried in securely fitted rear-facing car seats. This is just the same for an infant with SMA.
Car seating clinics are available in some areas – ask your physio / OT. Some suppliers have showrooms where you can try your child in different models. Some will give you a home demonstration.
If the car seat you’re considering is only available online and therefore not possible for you to view or try with your child, it’s sometimes possible to view short demonstration videos on YouTube – try typing the name of the car seat into the search bar: www.youtube.com
The In Car Safety Centre can be contacted for information about different models of car seats. You can view a variety of seats at their showrooms in Milton Keynes, Belfast or Essex: https://incarsafetycentre.co.uk/
Safe Use Of Your Car Seat
Current advice from RoSPA (Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents) is that babies and infants need to be carried in rear-facing car seats which have been fitted safely and securely. General safety information, including types of car seats suitable for children within different weight and age ranges is available here: www.childcarseats.org.uk
Manufacturers also provide detailed information for each of their seats about height and weight limits and how the seat can be positioned.
Some seats may need to be secured across the back seat. You’ll need to take this into account if you have other children that need to travel at the same time.
The car seat supplier or manufacturer should be able to check whether a seat will fit in your make / model of car and if any extra fixings are needed.
Infants Who Need To Lie Flat
If your child is weaker and needs to recline or lie flat to breathe comfortably, a standard car seat may be too upright for them. A car seat with multiple recline positions, including the option to lie-flat, will offer the most flexible seating and may be the only way they can travel safely and comfortably. They may also need additional head and neck support (see ‘Safe and Comfortable Positions’ in www.smauk.org.uk/recent-diagnosis-sma-
For information on car seats that may be suitable for your child, speak to your occupational therapist (OT) or physio. SMA UK may also be able to help.
Please be aware that some manufacturers advertise car seats as lie-flat when they can’t in fact completely lie flat when being used for travelling, so do check with your OT or physio which brands will be best for your child.
Bigger Children Who Need To Lie Flat
Car seats with a lie-flat facility are generally designed to carry younger children who are both lighter and shorter, so you may find your child outgrows their seat. It can then be challenging to find a car restraint that's both safe and comfortable for an older bigger child.
Sometimes a specialist lie-flat buggy that'll go directly into a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) is an option for older children. For more information, see sections on:
The In Car Safety Centre can be contacted for information about different models of car seats You can view a variety of seats at their showrooms in Milton Keynes, Belfast or Essex. This includes an option called E-Z-On Harness considered by some families with a car with room available to position their child across the back seat: http://incarsafetycentre.co.uk/
The NHS doesn’t fund car seats.
You may want to apply for help to buy your car seat. Support Services at SMA UK can suggest charities that may provide a grant. Most charities won’t fund retrospectively, so it’s important not to place your order or pay any deposit until all funding has been secured or pledged.
Most charities will need:
- a letter from your OT / physio to say that the car seat you've chosen is suitable, safe and meets your child’s needs and that the NHS doesn’t fund car seats
- your quote from the supplier detailing costs, including any extra accessories and delivery. VAT at 5% is usually applied to car seats. Check with your supplier.
You can find related information in the Living With SMA section:
Funding For Equipment.