Thursday, February 9, 2012


When it comes to installing car seats there are two ways to do it, either LATCH or with the vehicle seat belt. But what is LATCH? (Some Ford vehicles will allow the use of both seat belt and LATCH. But both the vehicle and the car seat must agree with this. The only car seat manufacture as of now that allows this is Combi. Check out this blog post from Lexlee's Kids.)

LATCH stands for lower anchors and tethers for children. LATCH is a system you can use to install your child's car seat into your vehicle. The system was created to have a universal way of installing car seats. The LATCH system is no safer than using the seat belt but it can make it easier for some parents to install their child's car seat. Each set of LATCH includes two lower anchors and one top tether.
All vehicles from 2003 to present should be equipped with at least 2 sets of LATCH. All car seats are also required to have lower anchor attachments (since 2002) and top tether anchor (since 1999). Always check your vehicle manual under the child restraint section to be sure where your vehicles LATCH bars are located.

Type of LATCH Attachments
There are a few different types of LATCH attachments on car seats.

Theses are the most common types of LATCH attachments. To use theses you must hook it around the vehicle anchor bars. These are also commonly used for top tether LATCH attachments. When using a hook on attachment the thickest part of the attachment must face up. Like this:


These are commonly found on Britax seats. You simple push the attachment on to the vehicles lower anchor bars. There is a release button you press to remove unlock it.


These have a button you press and then push onto the vehicles lower anchor bars. You release the button to lock the attachment to the vehicles lower anchor bars. These are commonly found on BabyTrend seats.


These are found on Diono/Sunshine Kids car seats. They are very similar to push-on attachments. They are more heavy duty though and allow for the LATCH to be used to the max weight of the car seat regardless of the vehicle's LATCH systems weight limit.


These are found on Evenflo seats. Also similar to push-on attachments. They tighten on their own though. They have a built in mechanism that tightens the webbing as you push the car seat into the vehicle seat.

There are two different ways to loosen a LATCH belt. Either a push button or tilt lock. A push button is simply a button that releases the webbing. A tilt lock is a lever that you tilt outwards to release the webbing.
Always read your car seat's manual to know exactly how to use that particular car seat's LATCH attachments.
Not all child restraints have LATCH attachments. Infant seats without the base, car bed for special needs children, and booster only child restraints will not always come with LATCH attachments.

Lower Anchors Bars
Typical back seat arrangement of lower anchors. Some vehicles arrange them differently. Check you vehicle manual under the child restraint section to be sure.

Lower Anchor bars are found in the bight of your vehicle seat. Sometimes they are easy to find, other times a bit difficult. They can be hidden behind zippers or flaps. You can sometimes find this little symbol near where they are located.

You can also find their location in the child restraint section of your vehicles manual.
There can be several configuration of LATCH bars in vehicles. Most have one set on the drivers side and one set on the passenger side. Some may have a set in the middle. Your vehicle manual will let you know exactly what the configuration is in your car.
You should never connect two car seats to one lower anchor bar. If your vehicle has a set of lower anchor bars on the passenger and driver side but not dedicated bars for the center you can sometimes borrow the inside bars of the driver and passenger side sets. Both your vehicle and car seat must allow for this. If either doesn't you can not use LATCH in the center and must use the seat belt to install your child's car seat. You can find more information on The Car Seat Lady's blog under LATCH, then under center LATCH. You can find out what car seats allow it and what vehicles forbid it. There is even a spreadsheet to help you know if you can or cant use center LATCH in your car.
Your vehicles lower anchors also have weight limits. Some vehicles don't allow you to use LATCH after the child is a certain weight. Some vehicles are 40lbs, some are 48lbs, some say to go by the weight limit of the car seats LATCH attachments, which may be 40lb or 48lbs. Once the child reaches these weight limits the vehicle seat belt should be used to install the car seat. If you do not know the weight limit of your vehicle's LATCH system or the car seat's LATCH attachments always assume 40lbs.
*Subaru's weight limit is 60lbs but includes the weight of the child and car seat. When their combined weight is more than 60lbs the vehicle seat belt should be used to install the car seat.

Top Tether
Different locations of top tether. Check your vehicle manual under child restraint to find out were they are located for your vehicle.

For a forward facing car seat you need to use the top tether part of the LATCH system. It doesnt matter if you are using the lower anchors or the seat belt, you should always use the top tether. The top tether is an important safety feature for forward facing car seats. Top tether reduces head excursion. Head excursion is the amount of forward movement the head has. A top tether can reduce this movement by up to 8 inches. This helps reduce injury to the head and neck for forward facing children.
From The Car Seat Lady's blog
If your vehicle is older and does not have any top tether anchors you can get them retrofitted into your car. Contact your vehicle's manufacture on getting a top tether retrofitting kit.

Rear Facing Tether

A select few convertible seats will allow for you to tether your rear facing seat. These seats are Britax, Sunshine Kids/Diono, and Combi Coccoro.
There are two different way you can tether your rear facing seat. One is the Swedish Style and the other is Australian. For a Swedish style you will need a D-ring.

These come with convertible seats that allow for rear facing tether. If you have lost yours you may contact the manufacture of your car seat and order a new one.
Here is a video by Britax showing how to tether your rear facing seat.

Boosters and LATCH

Some booster come with lower LATCH. This does not aid in the protection of the child though. The lower LATCH anchors are to help the booster from becoming a projectile when the child isn't in it. A loose booster in a car wreck could fly around and hit someone in the car. This can cause injury to other passengers. Its important that you either use the LATCH anchors with your booster, only if your vehicle also allows boosters to be LATCHed check your vehicle manual, OR to buckle in unused boosters.
Combination seats (seats that harnesses then booster) sometimes allow you to use the LATCH while the seat is a booster. Check both your car and car seat manual to see if this is OK.

***Remember to always store your LATCH attachments on your child's car seat when you are not using them. They can become dangerous projectiles in the even of a crash.***

Installation Videos from YouTube

Infant base with LATCH
Convertible seat with LATCH
Forward facing seat with LATCH

Most of the time you can find an installation video for your particular car seat. You should ALWAYS read though your car seat's manual. Your car seat's manual will tell you exactly how to install your seat. If you are having problems with installing your seat please visit a certified child passenger safety technician. You can find one at