A safe child seat is one that:
- fits your child,
- fits your vehicle, and
- is easiest for you to use each and every time.
LATCH was created to try to make installing your child seat easier.
What is LATCH?
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. All passenger vehicles and child seats manufactured after September 1, 2002, are required to have special anchors for attaching the child seat directly to the vehicle rather than securing the child seat with the vehicle’s seat belt. Keep in mind that even if your vehicle is equipped with LATCH you are still able to secure the child seat using the vehicle seat belt system. Whether you choose to secure the seat using either your vehicle seat belt system or LATCH is up to you; you are not required to use LATCH.
How does LATCH work?
To use LATCH, both the child seat and the vehicle must have LATCH parts that work together.
Parts in your vehicle
Lower anchors can be either very visible, such as in the vehicle pictured here, or they can be “buried” in the seat bight. Be sure to read your vehicle owner’s manual to understand where your lower anchors are located in your particular vehicle.
Top tether anchor
The top tether anchor location will vary based on what type of vehicle you drive. The top tether anchor could be located on the roof of the vehicle, like the one pictured here. Some are located on the floor, the rear of the seat itself, or on the rear shelf behind the rear seat, such as in sedans. Be sure to read your vehicle owner’s manual to understand where your anchor locations are in your particular vehicle.
Parts on your child seat
The lower connectors will be located on the lower part of your seat. Be sure to read your child seat user guide to understand how your lower LATCH connectors work on your particular seat.
The top tether hook will be located on the upper part of the back of the child seat. Again, be sure to read your child seat user guide to understand how your top tether works on your particular seat.
How they work together
The lower connectors on the child seat hook onto the lower anchor bars in your vehicle.
And the top tether hook on the child seat attaches to the top tether anchor in your vehicle.
Together they create a system that can make installation of your child seat easier. Whether you decide to install your seat using LATCH or the vehicle seat belt system, it is important to read both your child seat user guide and vehicle owner’s manual prior to installing your child seat. It’s also important to understand that you only have to choose ONE installation method; you should not use both the vehicle seat belt system and LATCH to install your harnessed child seat.
Note: Some booster seats posses LATCH connectors; the LATCH connectors help to properly position the booster seat in your vehicle. The vehicle seat belt restrains your child in a booster seat. In these types of situations both the LATCH connectors and vehicle seat belt may be used at the same time.
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