Using a Standard or Special CARES aviation harness in Australia / New Zealand

The Standard CARES is pre-approved by most local airlines for children weighing 10-20kgs and up to 102cm tall and who are capable of sitting upright alone in a forward facing position. It can be used in most seats except Exit rows and where seats have airbags installed.

The Special CARES requires individual approval for use by each airline prior to flights and was designed for larger special needs flyers above 147cm tall.

When looking to use either CARES harness for a flyer above the 10-20kg/102cm range you are effectively requesting an exemption from an Airline’s standard Restraint Devices policy.

This normally starts with talking to the Airline customer service teams and explaining your particular needs and why you’d like to use the CARES harness.  Seek to have the CARES harness usage noted on your booking details.

Users seeking these exemptions should then be seated in the rows immediately in front of a plane bulkhead where no passengers are situated behind them. This allows the CARES to be set up at a taller height without impacting passengers behind.

Key Points:

  • The standard CARES child aviation restraint is FAA approved for children up to 20kgs and approx 102cm tall.
  • The standard CARES has been accepted for use by CASA (Australian aviation authority) and the majority of Australian based airlines. The Airlines reference CARES directly or indirectly on their websites in the Child Restraint Device policies. See our listings here at Little Gulliver Airline Child Travel Policies page
  • The US inventor of CARES has advised us that the standard CARES harness can actually fit a flyer up to 4 foot, 10 inches tall (147cm) and 80lbs (36kgs).
  • For flyers outside these parameters, a Special CARES is also available (on request to Little Gulliver) that has longer shoulder straps to fit adult size flyers taller than 147cm.
  • When using either the standard or special CARES and being above the standard 20kg/102cm parameters, the traveller needs to be seated in the row directly in front of a bulkhead to ensure there is no seat behind theirs. This then allows the CARES main red anchor strap to be set up at the appropriate level for their height and not impact any traveller behind.
  • The main challenge in using either the standard or Special CARES for flyers above 20kgs/102cm will be asking the airline for approval, having this noted on the booking and ensuring an ‘in front of bulkhead’ seat is allocated.

There should be no need for the airline to assist in the setting up of the unit when onboard.

We’ve been told that the CARES harness is a better fitting and less bulky unit than the traditional special needs harness the airlines allocate. The airline units tend to be aimed at adult size flyers.

The customer service team may need to be pointed to their own web policies on the use of certain Child Restraint Devices and this can prove to be frustrating at times. CARES is a unique device, the only harness of its type fully tested and approved for use on aircraft and so they may be unfamiliar with it.

The US CARES manufacturer also states the following on their FAQ page. It is based on US regulations, but may help explain to staff how CARES is being used globally.


Can CARES be used for children with special needs?

CARES has been used successfully by many children with special needs. Parents should check with their physician or physical therapist to determine whether CARES provides sufficient upper body support for their child. If it does, parents need make no special or advance arrangements with the airline– just carry the CARES on board and install it as directed. Abilitations, a comprehensive catalog for equipment for children with special needs now carries CARES in their catalog, see

Can CARES be used for special needs children who are over the 44 lb weight and 40 inch height limitations?

If your special needs child is over the weight/height limitation for which CARES is currently certified, and your child’s medical advisor thinks CARES is an appropriate restraint, you can request an “Exemption” (from current regulations) from the FAA so you can use it. Larger special needs youngsters who are granted this exemption will be seated in the last row of a section of the plane, so no one sits behind the child who might brace against that seat. The FAA exemption will be valid on all US airlines.


Over the years we’ve had a number of Australian customers query the use of CARES for a special needs flyers and reach agreement with their airline that they will use the CARES.

Success appears to come down to how helpful the airline wishes to be and speaking to the right airline staff.

To purchase a Standard CARES please see the Little Gulliver CARES harness listing here

Please note the Special CARES is not available for general purchase.  It’s important to discuss an individual’s needs and ensure the right CARES is matched to your requirements.

Please contact Little Gulliver on 03 9824 6770 or email to discuss further.

CARES harness users

Find your closest public toilet

Here are the details of a website and some apps to allow you to find public toilets right where and when you need them. Great for travelling, especially with the young ones who often cannot wait.

The search option provides handy access to public toilets within direct proximity (and across Australia)!

Detailed information such as opening hours, whether showers or baby-changing facilities are available, accessibility features and much more are provided as available to help you make your choice.



Travelling and Eating in Vietnam

This post is courtesy of Oscar’s mum and can be found at

I have a 2 year old son, Oscar, who was diagnosed with food intolerances just after his first birthday, following 4 weeks on an elimination diet. His intolerances include Salicylates, Glutamates, food colours, and most artificial preservatives. This means that most fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices and processed foods are excluded from his diet. I’m sure that I’m not the only parent trying to deal with these food issues, so I’ve decided to share our experiences.

Thursday, September 30, 2010
We have just arrived back from 12 days holiday in Vietnam, Oscar included.  Vietnam is probably not the easiest place to take a child with food intolerances, as it is almost impossible to find out what ingredients are in food.  But, with a lot of planning we made it through the holiday without Oscar having any food reactions.

Our plan was to stick to Oscar’s diet as much as possible for breakfast and snacks and pick the “safest” option for lunch and dinner.  We didn’t expect to be able to buy much from the safe list (other than bananas and pawpaws) and didn’t want to spend all our time there trying to find food either, so we took what we could with us.

The food we took with us for 12 days included:

  • 6 x Aunty Betty’s Vanilla Flavoured Creamy Rice (100g tin) – these were just the right size to take on the plane
  • 6 x Uncle Tobys Microwaveable Bowl Oats Original.  These can be made with boiling water, which is handy for hotel rooms.
  • 6 x 425g cans of pears in syrup
  • 8 x Fosters Chocolate UHT custards
  • Dried fruit
  • Mixed plain sweet biscuits – Arnotts Milk Coffee, Arrowroot, etc.
  • Arnotts savoy biscuits
  • Lollies (for bribery purposes)
  • Powdered milk (for taking on the plane in case we couldn’t get any on board)
  • Small box Rice Bubbles
  • Pear Jam
  • Assorted zip lock bags and disposable plastic containers for storing food and taking out with us in small quantities.

All of this took up quite a bit of space in our suitcases, but the upside was that once all the food and nappies had been consumed we had an empty suitcase that we could fill with shopping.

Because we were flying overseas the food we took for the flight had to comply with the liquids and gels limit of 100 ml/100 g per container and all the items to fit in a 25 x 25cm zip lock bag each.  In our hand luggage we took a couple of 100g Choc Rock yogos, and a small container of jam, a tin of creamed rice, bananas, pears, a packet of croissants and the powdered milk.  To keep the jam and yogo cold I bought a thermal bag (smash brand) that doesn’t need ice and a packet of the smallest gel ice packs I could find (also by smash).  I included one of these in the zip lock bag with the jam, yogo and creamed rice and had no problems going through security with it.  We took powdered milk because I couldn’t find any UHT milk containers that were 100ml or less.   There is supposed to be an exception for liquids that are food or drink for babies and children but I think it depends on which security person you get as to whether they will let something bigger through.  We didn’t need the powdered milk on the plane, as we were able to get it as part of the drinks service.  It did come in very handy though when our flight was delayed landing for 3 hours and we arrived at our hotel too late to go out and buy any.

Breakfast for Oscar consisted of Rice Bubbles or porridge with milk/water to drink followed by something from the breakfast buffet at the hotel – scrambled eggs on toast, bananas, pancakes/toast with butter and/or pear jam and, not to be left out when his parents pigged out on the pastries, a chocolate croissant.  Unlike his parents, Oscar wasn’t greedy, he pulled the croissant apart and only ate the chocolate centre!

Snacks came from the food we brought with us, plus we supplemented and provided variety with icecreams and drinks when we were out:

  • Banana juice
  • Banana and pear (Nashi) juice – Moderate Salicylate
  • Chocolate or Banana Smoothies/Milkshakes
  • Coconut smoothie – made from fresh coconut – Moderate Salicylate
  • Icecream – vanilla, chocolate, coconut (moderate salicylate)
  • Small can of lemon and lime 7up

We were also able to buy raw cashews, milk, bread to have with pear jam and plenty of bananas.

Lunches and dinners were a bit harder.  We tried to pick the safest option from the menu, which was usually a western meal, such as chips, chicken nuggets, fish fingers and pastas with cream sauces.  Not the healthiest diet, but the nuggets and fish fingers and some of the chip servings were freshly made, not the commercial  variety, so preservatives were less likely.  We also let Oscar try anything on our plate that he was interested in (apart from the chillies and really spicy food), and he did try some noodles and spring rolls.

Some other things we found useful for travelling overseas with a toddler included some great products from Little Gulliver – the CARES child safety restraint for use in planes, the Cushie Traveller folding toilet seat, the kids inflatable neck cushion, the Wrist Buddy for keeping us tethered together when out walking in crowded places, and the Little Gulliver disposable wrist bands for recording Oscar’s name and our details in case he got lost..

We also took a DVD player (cheap one from Dick Smith) – which was great on the plane when the lights were turned out and the entertainment system didn’t work – an MP3 player, and a set of Moshi Kids Headphones which are volume limited to protect kids ears, no matter how loud the volume on the device is.

Oscar carried (some of the time) his own backpack which contained some new and old favourite books, sticker books, Crayola twistable crayons (they don’t break when dropped) and colouring books, a special toy and a mini doodle.  I also took extra new books, colouring books and sticker books for the trip home and as a distraction at other times.

This post is courtesy of Oscar’s mum and can be found at

Milk for Toddlers Overseas

I can’t give you any specific feedback on milk in this region, but a milk powder does seem a smart alternative to using fresh milk if you’re concerned. I’m wondering if you’re looking at using bottled water also?

Lynn : July 21st 2010 12:22 PM

Hi, my 2.5 years old son has cow’s milk twice a day. My husband and I don’t trust the fresh milk in Asia and we are thinking about taking full cream milk powder with us. We are going away for 3 weeks, just wondering if milk powder are good for my 2.5 years old son to consume for 3 weeks overseas? If it’s good, can you recommend any brand. Thank you.

Donna @ Little Gulliver said: July 22nd 2010 2:16 PM

Hi Lynn,

3 weeks in Asia with the family sounds lovely!

I can understand your question, as our kids are big milk drinkers too. I can’t give you any specific feedback on milk in this region, but a milk powder does seem a smart alternative to using fresh milk if you’re concerned. I’m wondering if you’re looking at using bottled water also?

Normal powdered milk is generally considered to be low fat (even the full cream), so the fact that your son is over 2 means it is still suitable for him. Just make sure the milk powder is not a skim milk powder as this will not be suitable (until after 5 years of age).

The other alternative is to look at one of the specially prepared toddler milk powders. I can see that something like this (with the extra nutrients offered) may be good during travel. This can help if you’re not able to provide many of his favourite healthy meals and his nutritional needs may be higher than normal. If you do consider a toddler formula, I suggest checking the labelling. They can be quite high in sugar. Also, if it is in a large tin, you may like to carefully measure and decant what you may need (plus a bit extra) into a smaller clean container to save packing space. Just don’t forget the measuring spoon!

Just for the record though, I am generally against the toddler milks altogether (powdered or fresh) for kids with balanced diets. Choice ( – toddler milk) provides 2 cautions which may be worth keeping in mind. Toddler milk (powdered or fresh) can;

a)  Contribute to constipation: so, if using toddler powder you may like to introduce it gradually leading up to your travel and gradually stop using it when you get home.

b)  Give toddlers a preference for drinking sweet milk rather than normal milk. Unlike infant formula, toddler milk is sweetened and often flavoured as well – just make sure your son brushes his teeth well before bed.

All this being said though, ordinary milk does have natural sugars and should be given only during meals or snack time anyway.

Another thing I have used (but only when travelling) is the formula in sachets. It can be convenient to use, as there is no need for measurements. Perhaps you could make one up in the morning (maybe take a plastic bottle with the water measure marked) if you have a fridge in your accommodation and are able to clean it thoroughly.

Another alternative is UHT milk. You may not want to travel with 1 litre cartons, but it may be handy to take a few of the small size. You could keep a couple in your day bag during transit and perhaps some straws (cut to size). Note, full size straws are handy for toddlers to use with bottled water when travelling too.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium for your son’s age group is 500mg. Just 1 cup of full fat milk is 295mg of calcium, so I guess you needn’t worry that he will need a lot of milk everyday. You may be OK to cut back (unless he’s missing it) by supplementing his calcium with extra cheese. A 30 g piece of cheddar cheese gives 255 mg (cheese sticks are handy for travelling). And half a cup of baked beans has 40mg of calcium (the small tins of baked beans are handy if he likes them).

I also like the pre prepared squeeze fruit and veg in sachets. Once again, if he’s a good eater than these may not be necessary, but are a handy way to consume fruit if fresh is not available. Like fresh fruit, he can suck on them (so no need for a spoon) and they can be easily disposed of. I always take enough snacks for the duration of the trip in an ice cream type container. When travelling home you can then leave the container there and have more room in your suitcase for souvenirs (or duty free treats)!

I always think that travelling is the best time to make allowances and take it easy. Depending on how you think he will go with food, toddler milk during your travel period may be worth considering. Check a few brands next time you’re at the supermarket and evaluate their nutritional information.

I hope some of these thoughts may suit you and have given you some more ideas. Let me know how you go. I hope you make some great memories together! I’d love to hear from other readers too, on what they did travelling through Asia which may help us.




This answer provides general information. It is based on my own experiences and research and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please seek advice from a qualified health care professional if necessary.

Fluoride in water

Laura said: June 25th 2010 1:25 am

I live in Indonesia and buy bottled water for preparing formula. Should I be supplementing with fluroide, and from what age? My son in 8 months old and gets perhaps 33% of his nutrition from formula, 33% breast milk and 33% solids.


Donna @ Little Gulliver said: June 25th 2010 1:48 pm

Hello Laura,

There is certainly much debate on fluoride! Where we live in Victoria, Fluoride is supplemented in our water. For you, I suggest seeking professional medical advice. This will ensure that your child is receiving an adequate amount of fluoride, based on your own circumstances. I’ve included a link to questions on Fluoride from our local government Better Health website, however it is not specific to babies and should be seen as a general guide only.

I guess your son will be crawling around soon and keeping you very busy – enjoy!



Link to the Victorian Government Better Health Website;

An excerpt;

Q: I live in an area of the state which does not have fluoride added to the water supply. What do you recommend for alternative preventive care, especially for young children?

A: Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that is found in rocks, soils, water and plants….Fluoride supplements, including tablets and drops, are recommended only for those children at high risk of dental caries in a non-fluoridated area, and only under professional advice from your dental therapist, dentist or from Dental Health Services.


This answer provides general information. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please seek advice from a qualified health care professional.