IMPORTANT: You May Not Want to Use LATCH System for Child’s Car Seat!

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This is not a coupon deal but as usual, when I see something I feel is important, I post about it. I was shocked when I saw this today….

There is a new rule or guideline coming out in 2014:

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. 

Child seats typically weigh 15 to 33 pounds. So the new rule means some children as light as 32 pounds might not be able to use a system designed to make child seats easier to install and, therefore, safer. This child-seat system is known as LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children).

Read more about it here

Also, something else that’s important – do NOT use both the latch system and the seatbelt together. It is actually a dangerous thing to do. Thanks to all the readers who left comments informing us all about this.

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    • kelly says

      funny you said this- we thought that too when we installed the car seats for our triplets. We took it to the state police to have them check it- and they said it really had to do with the angle of the seat bases. They actually took high density foam/pool noodles, to build up the space to make sure the eat was secured. They even had some kind of a level out making sure that all the angles were correct.

      • Kaytie says

        We took our first seat to the police station and was actually surprised they didn’t do more to get the base level, this time we put our convertible seat ourselves…

  1. Jacki says

    I always thought the LATCH system was simply a secondary safety buckle, i.e. you buckle the car seat in as usual, and then use the latch as an extra buckle! I can’t imagine using it as the sole latch.

  2. Martha says

    The manual with our seats actually says not to use them if the weight hits a certain point. Since our guy is still in a 5 point harness at 6 years old (by our choice and he doesn’t care) we haven’t used the latch system in quite a while and find that even when we tried, we couldn’t get the seat as tight as we thought it should be. I think it works greats for infant seats, but never worked once he went into a convertible.

    • mary C says

      You might want to check to see if his weight isn’t above the recommended for a 5 point harness. I thought it was safer for my child until I read the instructions not to use 5 point harness AFTER a particular weight. (The harness isn’t strong enough for a heavier child.)

    • Amy says

      I’m pretty sure every car seat manufacturer recommends against doing this. You should use one or the other, not both

  3. Mary says

    I was told on new Subarus (at least on the 2011 forester) the LATCH is welded directly into the car’s roll frame, making it a lot safer.

  4. Amanda says

    You should also read your car manual! A lot of auto makers have lower limits specified for the LATCH system – some as low as 40 or 50 lbs combined weight. I was surprised to read about this last week as well. I’m switching mine to seatbelt as well.

    • Amanda says

      No, the auto makers’ recommendations are for the child’s weight only, not the combined weight. They are simply trying to standardize it AND make the information more public. Many, many parents have no idea that LATCH has limits at all. Scary.

  5. Lori says

    For the LATCH system to be tight you have to put a good deal of weight in the seat. We put one knee in the seat and put weight on that knee while pulling the strap as tight as possible. Pulling the strap with no weight in the seat will leave too much room for seat movement. I’m not saying one method is better than the other, use the one you feel is best for your child, I just wanted to give a tip on how to prevent movement if you use the LATCH system.

    • tracy says

      I actually put both my knees in my sons caraway and tighten the latch straps as much as possible. Granted I’m a little cramped in a car doing this but the end result is I can’t get his seat to move either direction. When I use it with just a seatbelt it moves side to side so easily. I love the latch, but I wonder why its unsafe to also use with a seat belt when u convert them from their harness.

      • amy says

        You CAN use the LATCH to hold in a booster since the seatbelt is holding the child simply keeps the seat in place, it will not take the forces in a crash, the seatbelt will.

  6. kelly says

    So I understand what they . Here is PA a child who is 4 years old and 40 pounds can go from a 5 point harness to a booster seat. Those booster seats have the option of being secured with the latch system…. if you don’t use the latch then they are attached to nothing, The weight of the child and the shoulder/lap belt is suppose to hold the seat in place. So just to feel more secure- I use the latch with the booster seat. So I tend to think this is a problem for parents who have older or heavier kids in a 5 point harnesses.

    • Robin says

      Kelly, I agree. My son is in a Britax Parkway booster and it has a highback to it with side impacts. If I were to just seatbelt it vs. latch he would not be as safe, he could fly out very easily. He is only 40lbs at 7 1/2 years old. I think each car, seat and child needs to be independently considered, in each case, in order for you to identify the safest way possible to secure your child. NEVER have car seats been OSFA.

    • charity rosasco says

      kelly, I dont agree. Apparently you have never lost a child or seen a child dead in a car accident. I think most of the time it is the other way around. Parents put their kids in booster seats too soon because manufactures say “40 pounds” and they are fit to be in a booster seat and parents think its ok and its more convenient. Children are dying from being taken out of 5 pt too soon.I think parents should do alittle more research before offering judgement or opinions on websites.

      • Amanda says

        Actually if you’d reread her comment she’s right. The LATCH vs Seat belt issue described in this article IS more of a concern for bigger kids in 5 point harnesses than in boosters. Boosters can still be attached to the car with LATCH because the LATCH system is not holding the weight of the booster and the child. It’s only holding the booster. The seat belt holds the child. The new LATCH guidelines are not a concern in that case. Yes, kids are dying from being taken out of 5 point harnesses too soon, and even more so from being turned forward facing too soon, but that’s not what her comment was about. She was not judging people for using 5 point harnesses longer. Not even sure where you got that idea.

        Kelly, if you are really concerned about safety, consider going back to a 5 point harness and use the seat belt to install the seat. The law is the minimum, not the ideal.

        Proud momma of a 6 1/2 year old, 50 pound 5-pt harnessed boy.

  7. Lacey says

    My daughter’s car seat is tethered in, but I use both the top and bottom anchors, and I made sure that both of them are extremely tight so as not to provide any kind of jarring movement if I’m in an accident.

    I was in an accident with her in 2010, and her seat was strapped in with the seat belt, thankfully, she didn’t sustain any damage, but after that, I started to use the tethers.

  8. Yvonne Eckles says

    We have an Evenflo carseat with SureLATCH and it ‘ratchets’ the carseat down SUUUUUUPER SNUG! I agree that when you install the carseat, you should put weight in the seat to allow the ratchet to pull it in nice and tight. It feels very very secure. Much more secure than when we use that carset in my husbands truck and use just the seatbelt. It saddens me to think he’ll outgrow this system (w/the 5point harness) and have just the seatbelt and booster. I’ve heard such horrible stories about kids in booster seats :(
    Hopefully this convertible carseat will keep us safe a long long time.

  9. Ashley huh says

    You said NOT to use the LATCH and safety belt together, but you didn’t say why. I am currently using both because I thought two were better than one. Please explain why this is not the case. I am a little worried.

  10. Dana says

    You are not supposed to use the LATCH and and the seatbelt in combination because no crash testing has been done to ensure that the actual carseat can withstand the forces of both systems at once. Crash testing has however been done on each of these independently and you should use whichever system works best for your car and the weight of your child.

  11. Dana says

    No prob Ashley. Carseats terrified me at first so I have researched until I’m blue in the face and still scared I’m doing something wrong. :-)

  12. amy says

    Ok there’s a lot of misinformation given from well meaning pediatricians, parents, grandparents, emergency personnel etc. Lets make this as easy as possible. There are lots of people that volunteer their time to become certified in this area. They are labeled CPST, which means child passenger safetyseat technician.they have been trained to properly install seats the safest way make it short, the safest seat is the one you use correctly 100% of the time. It is best to keep your child rear facing as long as they fit the height and weight limits of the seat, forward facing in a Ness after that until they outgrow the harness height and weight, and then booster seat until 4’9″ of course this is best practice and laws are different in every state and only provide the minimum requirements, not the safest ways.please tether (the back anchor strap) if possible. LATCHes made to be an easier install, not safer. Both seatbelts and LATCH connectors are equally safe when you have the proper install. For those asking, the boostersthat latch in don’t follow the weight limit rules because it is only holding the seat in place, the seatbelt is actually holding the child in in a crash. We don’t use the seatbelt and the LATCH together as someone else stated bc it has not been crash tested and we don’t know if it will actually compromise the safety of the seat. It may cause your seat to fail. If you “think” your harness is ok at 50lbs even though it says don’t use after 40lbs, just know that the manufacturer doesn’t think it will hold past 40 lbs and you are taking a huge chance with the child you Are trying to protect. There are many seats that. harness past 40lbs. Sorry that wasn’t as short as I meant it to be lol! So best way to know for sure is to have your seat checked by a CPST. I know some state troopers in LA are certified, but don’t just go to a fire dept or police dept and expect them to install it correctly. Make sure the person is certified please. Some police don’t even know there is such a thing. ;-) my dad didn’t until I became certified and he’s a P.O. please if you’re unsure ask. It could save a child’s life! And that’s what we are trying to do, save our children from their number one killer cars

  13. Sarah M says

    This is the rule of thumb I was already using. We switched to a seat belt install once our son’s weight and the car seat weight reached the LATCH limits for our vehicles. It made sense to us, that if the LATCH system said 48 lbs (think that is what our seat said) as the limit, then it couldn’t be referring to just the weight of the child, because not all seats weigh the same thing. The force against the LATCH system in a wreck, is the combined weight of the car seat and the child, and if the system is only good for 48 lbs, then my 20 lb car seat and 28 lb child have reached the limits! If my LATCH was for 65 lbs, then he could still use it. The seat belt install of his Evenflo Symphony 65 and his Evenflo SecureKid 400 were both super easy. You just gotta get your weight into it and it’ll secure good. Same for using the LATCH system.

  14. Nicole S says

    I’m confused. The article and these comments haven’t clarified anything.

    My son is 2 yrs(26 months), weighs 40 lbs, and is 37″ tall. He is currently in a forward facing Graco my ride 65, and my car is a 2010 Hyundai. I use the bottom LATCHes and the top tether-

    Anyone have any opinion on this? I’m just not understanding the concern-

    • Sarah R says

      NIcole the My ride weighs 15lbs. so you are okay with the latch system in terms of combined weight. you will need to look up the specifications for your car to verify that the hooks on the car will accomadate the 65lbs… once he weighs 50lbs you need to switch to the seatbelt and top tether (if suggested) i just switched my 4yr old over to the seatbelt and it’s suggested to also continue using the top tether.

      • amy says

        These regulations don’t go into effect until 2014… that being said the myride only allows latch use until 48 lbs. Please use seatbelt after that. Tether is better no matter if you use seatbelt or lower anchors, use the tether on the back with both installs if available.

      • Nicole S says

        I planned on purchasing a convertible booster(5-point harness high-back, high back, regular booster combo) within the next two months anyways. I also have his seat securely tightened. This whole concept is just strange that they would post a warning 10 months in advance for new regulations. Why not just come out with an advisement that the regulations are now changed?

        • amy says

          Beats me lol actually they posted this article over a year ago ;-) we’ve been responding since then to many even more confused parents. As if it wasn’t complicated enough!

    • amy says

      Ok I found it. Hyundai defers to the carseat limits so you’re good with LATCH to 48 lbs for your seat and vehicle now.

  15. Sarah R says

    I have never had any issue using the latch system in my 08 cobalt.. I am tall so using my knees makes it hard to install the seat in such a small can but i sit in the seat sideways and pull everything tight and i manage to get mine so tight that most people cant get it out.. they just don’t budge. Both my kids 2 & 4 have the Graco Nautilus and out of all the graco’s i feel i have been able to get this one secured the best. And even today i had switch my daughters seat over to the seatbelt and it went well i just made sure to tighten, pull and tighten some more until the seat didn’t budge.. sure it took a bit of work and time.. but i feel they are safe.

    • amy says

      As long as you don’t have more than an inch of movement AT THE BELT PATH you are fine. Getting the seats in TOO tight could also put too much stress on the seat itself. ;-) I too used to make mine no budge. That’s not necessary or advised. Tight enough for less than an inch side to side or front to back only at the belt path. Especially rear facing, the part furthest from the belt will move some.

  16. amy says

    If in doubt get with a CPST or just do a seatbelt install. for the Hyundai 2010 you can check your manual for the car to find the weight limits if it does not specify, go by 40 lbs for child weight. Your Myride says up to 48 lbs. That is for the weight of the child only as of now. The new regs will say 65lbs total. This is because seats are starting to weigh more. That will still be a general rule the mfg has to follow. Some will go above and beyond and test to higher limits. For now you are safe following the manuals of vehicle and seat. Some vehicles say you can defer to the child seat and some are a strict 40 lbs. If in doubt, yout can always use the seatbelt. ;-)

  17. Danielle says

    I still don’t understand why it’s unsafe to use latch & seatbelt? My son is under the latch max weight soooo I don’t see why I can’t anchor him & still put a seat belt through the back part of seat as extra protection & ease of mind.. I would think It’d be safe if its not please enlighten me! Thank u

    • amy says

      It hasn’t been crash tested is the best answer to that but also we don’t know if the two together will put too much stress on the seat in a crash. The seat manufacturer says not to do it, so if the seat fails, they are not responsible. That’s only referring to the lower anchors in the seat bite. Use the rear seat anchor with any forward facing installation since it keeps the seat back against the vehicle seat. It’s better to tether. Both latch and seatbelt are equally as safe if used correctly. One is not safer than the other.

  18. Becky says

    I AM SO SICK OF CARSEATS MY HEAD IS GOING TO IMPLODE. I have a 1 year old and 2 year old. I have wasted DAYS out of my life researching carseat safety, only to find out they are totally unregulated and almost all of them fall apart if you’re going over 30moh anyway (says wall street journal) , then you find out they all equally suck so you start price shopping, you get the dang thing and spend HOURS upon HOURS figuring out exactly how it’s supposed to go. Then your child is almost 1, ad they say OH NEVERMIND no we are now changing it so they have to face backwards until they’re 2. then you have the fact that the handle can break if you carry then in the ding danged the so you have to carry it in this ridiculous fashion, And NOW you’re telling me that I overlooked researching the weight capacity on the LATCH if one was listed and now I have to find out the weights of my carseats and go through the process of installing them correctly with local authorities yet again.

    I saw something on CSPAN the other day about an author saying CARSEATS were a factor holding people back from having more kids. It is so impossible to use them correctly and such Poor government regulation of them all they do is make things miserable for everyone and give people a false sense of safety. I’m sure they do save lives but I’m also sure there’s a lot of people going over 30mph w a false sense of security about their carseats in the winter where I am that might have otherwise stayed home and not driven in the blizzard without it. On balance they are obviously necessary BUT I’VE HAD IT FORGET THE GUNS CANT THE GOVT REGULATE THIS IN SOME SORT OF COHERENT FAHSION ?? Lol end rant

    • amy says

      I totally agree! Leave my guns alone! Far more kids are killed by cars! Don’t worry about this regulation until 2014. Just use the seatbelt and don’t worry about it at all. Still use the rear tether no matter which ff install. Keep your babies rf until they outgrow the seat that is safest. The law is still 1 year the 2 year is only a recommendation that being said your child is safest rear facing!

      • Becky says

        Yeah, I guess that’s what I’ll do!

        One more add to the rant I can’t help myself I know they save lives but it seems like no one is talking about how they cost lives too. Where I live (ND) a lot of parents are driving their infants around in nasty icy conditions, over the 30mph government regulation, and have a false sense of security about them. In recent memory in my town a baby actually died in their carseat while babys parents were driving the baby around in a blizzard. The road was open, and people want to get to work. I do NOT believe that if it was 1970 before carseats people would be driving their infants at those speeds in a blizzard, I just don’t believe it, they’d stay home with a baby, and today they just have this false sense of security and it does not go well.

        • amy says

          No matter what the age or carseats or not. If the conditions are bad, mad it’s possible, people should stay off the road. Parents need to stay safe too and a wreck is dangerous for everyone. ;-)

          • Becky says

            I agree that everyone should stay off the road, unfortunately where I live in ND no one does that. However NOT having a carseat would very likely keep some people off the road on days where they otherwise are ON the road driving their kids to day care due to the false sense of security. Therefore, car seats do cost lives even if they save a lot more, And I know from talking to people here that before car seats people didn’t drive babies in blizzards, and today they commonly do and you do hear about babies dying in blizzard condition driving.

            • Becky says

              Actually I am getting off point my main point I want to make is that the poor regulation and limited safety of carseats (only under 30mph regulation and tests showing most of them falling apart after that speed point) combined with this enthusiastic approach to navigate this very poorly destined system of car seat safety has created a culture of false security. We are led to believe that car seats are much safer than they are. It’s obvious that on balance they are much safer than no carseat, but the impression you get about safety of carseats is misleading and not something car seat safety classes talk about because A) either they aren’t aware how limited their safety is or B) they probably wisely have judged that we shouldn’t tell people the truth because it might discourage proper car seat use which would obviously be a bad thing on balance. But someone needs to talk about it so we can get some regulations passed!!!

  19. sara says

    Wow, what a PITA this has become! When my son was a baby (he’s 15 now) the rule was rear facing until it made their knees bend, and once they were too tall you were supposed to turn them around because they could suffer leg/joint damage in an accident, and now they’re telling people rear facing until 2? My son was too tall for rear facing (by rules at that time) at 10 or 11 months 0_0. Good thing I never had an accident when he was in one of those things!!

    • amy says

      There are no documented cases of children breaking legs rf. There a plenty of kids that have died ff from internal decapitation rf makes the seat take the forces ff makes the spine take them. If you have to choose a broken legs I way easier to fix than a broken neck but again no documented cases ofbopen legs and plenty of parents rf until 4 & 5 years old. ;-)

        • amy says

          Yes I agree and I was more posting a response for anyone else reading that may not know why we don’t say that anymore. ;-) but a lot of people still believe they need to be turned around if their knees have to be bent. They don’t realize kids are so flexible and actually like to remain rear facing most of the time because of the recline. Some parents that wish to turn the kids back rf think the kids will protest and most don’t, most are happy to not have their little legs falling asleep from dangling. We like to say when we know better we do better, but some people still rrefuse to listen. I know people that use seats that are way expired. Like 35 years old…. :-(

  20. Brandy says

    I have 3 kids, twins who are 4 and a 2 year old. We use Britax Frontier 85 car seats for all 3 which allows for 5-point harness until 85 lbs. We own a HONDA Odyssey and use the LATCH system to secure the car seats to the vehicle. After reading the article, I went to check the owners manual to see what the LATCH anchors hold up to weight (verify 65 lbs) and the information is not listed. If you call HONDA they can not give you an answer and tell you it is the responsibility of the car seats not them (which is wrong). Britax’s car seat manual states “For harness mode refer to your vehicle owner’s manual or contact the vehicle manufacturer for the maximum weight rating for the LATCH anchors in your vehicle”. HONDA will refer you to contact and when contacting them, they informed me that HONDA needs to provide this information and this is why the new 2014 law is coming out. I was directed to file complaints with the FTC and the State Consumer Affairs which I have done. Please verify with your vehicle’s manufacturer what is the maximum weight limit that the LATCH anchors can hold.

    • amy says

      It’s on page two of your owners manual I believe. It says refer to the owners manual of the vehicle and if it’s not specified, do not use after the child is 40 lbs. ;-) I don’t have a latch manual to look it up, but I’ll get back with you on what the limits are for the Honda you have. ;-)

      • Brandy says

        It is a 2011 and in the owners manual on page 2 it talks about the overview and contents. I have read the entire manual and it is not stated in there anywhere. If that is the case, why can’t HONDA answer my question when I call in?

        • amy says

          I honestly don’t know why they can’t tell you at Honda. That being said I believe parents should have access to the same information techs do for free. It should not be so hard and we as CPST should not have to be the key for parents to safely and correctly use their carseat. LATCH was supposed to make it easier and like most things, it has only made it more complicated. It is what it is. I am not sure if jut anyone can order the LATCH manual that lists all vehicles and the positions for and limits of their LATCH. CPST have to order them. I am planning to order the 2014 LATCH manual this week. It’s all in there and I had another tech look it up for your vehicle. Until the new laws come into place for 2014 vehicles and seats the rule of thumb is if you can’t find the info, stop use after 40 lbs. They have all been tested to that strength. That’s the child weight… oh and I’m sorry I just reread your post and mine. I meant pg 2 of the britax frontier 85 manual I wasn’t really clear I apologize. I am looking at a pdf version of the manual from the britax website and it has a pg number 2 in the corner. Not sure metaphysical page it is. ;-) hope that helps.

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