General Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics

All children must ride in cars and other vehicles as safely as possible. Some children with certain medical conditions can ride in the standard types of car safety seats that are commonly found in stores. Children with breathing or muscle control conditions, casts or other health care needs may need to use special medical car safety seats or restraints. If your child has special needs, a variety of child restraint options are available. 

No matter what type of seat you choose, there are some general guidelines that you should keep in mind:

  • Talk to your pediatrician or surgeon about your child's positioning and transportation needs.
  • Remember that some children with special needs are able to use standard child restraints such as infant-only seats, convertible seats, forward-facing seats/restraints or belt-positioning booster seats.
  • Check the label on the car safety seat and make sure it states that the seat meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
  • Never try to alter a car safety seat to fit a child with special needs. Never use a car safety seat that has been altered to fit a child with special needs unless it has been crash tested with the change.
  • Stay up-to-date on what might be available for your child. New child restraints offer more options every year.
  • Keep your child in the type of car safety seat that gives the most protection until your child reaches the top weight or height recommended by the manufacturer.

Car safety seats for children with special needs are often expensive. However, you may be able to get help with the cost. Insurance, including Medicaid, may cover the cost of a specialized restraint in some cases. For special needs car safety seat programs in your area, contact:

  • Your pediatrician.
  • A local children's hospital.
  • Your rehabilitation therapist.
  • A Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area. To find one check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Technician Contact Locator at or 1.888.DASH.2.DOT (1.888.327.4236).
  • Easter Seals at 1.800.221.6827.


Car Seat Transportation