Using LATCH? Is Your Seat Safe?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 by from Buzzworthy Bulletins

car seat baby

Did you know that the LATCH system in vehicles should not be used past a certain weight limit? The exact number has been left to each vehicle and seat manufacturer to determine, making for a somewhat confusing grey area. This means that each car seat and each car might designate different limits, and you would need to know the limits for each car that will be used. Now, I know that when we first installed our car seat, reaching weight limits seemed so far in the future that I didn’t spend much time thinking about them. Unfortunately, in some cases that might lead to unsafe situations. If parents aren’t given an exact number to plan for, like waiting until two years of age to turn forward-facing, then there is a greater risk of children riding in improperly restrained car seats. Luckily, it seems that things are beginning to change.

Before we talk about that change, let’s talk about the reasons for the limits. If you are like most parents, LATCH seems like the safest and fastest way to install a car safety seat. So why would you ever not use the system? As the Car Seat Lady explains, “Since the lower anchors bear the brunt of the force in a crash, concern for their weight limit is especially important. They are designed to restrain the weight of a child safety seat plus the weight of a small child. The vehicle’s safety belt, which is stronger because it is designed to restrain large adults, is a good substitute for the lower anchors when securing a child safety seat used by a heavier child.”

The new rule begins to make clear the exact limitations of the LATCH anchors, no matter which type of vehicle is being used. “The rule requires child-seat makers to tell parents not to use the lower anchors required in cars since 2001 if children and their car seats have a combined weight of 65 pounds, because the strength of the anchors cannot be guaranteed.” Since car seats have weights ranging from 15 to 32 pounds, even a child as small as 34 lbs would need to be in a seat restrained using the seatbelt instead of the LATCH.

This rule helps to simplify things, allowing parents to judge whether to use a safety belt or LATCH based on the weight of their seat and the weight of their child. Now we just need to be sure that these numbers are getting to parents. Were you aware that LATCH systems had a weight limit? 

What do you think? Using LATCH? Is Your Seat Safe?

Sara McTigue, CLCEditor

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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13 comments

  1. Avatar of DanaGoodman DanaGoodman says:

    Both of our carseats have all the weight information clearly labeled along with information about how to install the straps, how to have the seat angled, where to put the belt, etc. That being said I know a lot of people are ignorant about all this stuff because they don’t take a few minutes to read the manual or the information on the side of the carseat. Its a shame to put your child in danger over something so simple.

    As far as LATCH is concerned, at least in our car, I find it a pain. In order to use it I have to take one carseat out and crawl into the car to fasten them both in and then have to try to crawl back out to get the other sides fastened. NOT worth my time or effort and it is almost impossible for our skinny 9 year old friend to get in and out of the back with the carseats in so I can’t imagine trying to get my fat butt out. The seat belts (when used correctly) work so much better for us and I can do it without having to climb into the car. Then if I have to move our carseats it is not a huge ordeal.

  2. Avatar of Rachel Rachel says:

    I didn’t know this either!

  3. Avatar of Sara McTigue, CLCEditor Sara McTigue, CLC says:

    Basically, unless you car seat specifically instructs you to use both methods – seat belt and LATCH – you should not. Car seats should always be installed following the specific instructions provided by the seat manufacturer. Trying to use both could cause MORE issues and safety problems.

    The best thing to do is take your seat to a car seat inspection location for advice on the safest install for your seat and your vehicle. Hope that helps for those with concerns!

  4. Avatar of Danielle Danielle says:

    @Elena…. Why? I am not saying it isn’t. I just wonder why it would make would be more dangerous

  5. Avatar of Elena Elena says:

    you are not supposed to use both latch seat belt at the same time…. its either the top tether and seat belt OR top tether and LATCH but never both. they do not recommend using both a seat belt and LATCH they say to NOT use both. You could find this info on Google, car seat manual and the car manual.

  6. Avatar of Elena Elena says:

    @Sukismom- what? you never use the latch and seat belt at the same time! you either use a seat belt and the top tether ancor OR latch and tether. never both. using both at the same time is dangerous.

  7. Avatar of sukismom sukismom says:

    I have always just used the latch and seat belt from day one. I just found out a little while ago that you can just use the latches, I see no point when seat belts work just fine.. I see the latch as added support. It’s really no extra work to use both..

  8. Avatar of Amy Amy says:

    I think I am headed to the garage right now to add the safty belt to our latched car seat. I had no clue about this.

  9. Avatar of jennifier33 jennifier33 says:

    Good info. I didn’t know that there was a weight limit.

  10. Avatar of Clo2 Clo2 says:

    My car seat has both. I’m using the latch anchors and the seat belt at the same time. It feels safer and that’s what is recommended.

  11. Avatar of Ale Ale says:

    NO I WASNT AWARE THAT LATCH SYSTEM HAD A WEIGHT LIMIT

  12. I’m for sure going to remember this when we get our carseat.

  13. Avatar of meredith meredith says:

    Did not know this. Just changed car seats, so going to check this out.

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