EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve updated this post with the help of The Car Seat Lady to better explain these changes.
Heads up, parents of kids in car seats! There are changes to LATCH that will affect how you install your child’s seat.
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren.
The new changes (already adopted by most vehicle manufacturers, but not law yet) state that the lower anchors should no longer be used when the child and car seat’s combined weight is over 65 lbs.
These weight limits ONLY apply to the lower anchors and not the tether; the tether should continue to be used on every forward-facing car seat. Also not included in these weight limits are boosters — where the child uses the vehicle’s seat belt across them.
Why the change? As 5-point harness car seats, and the kids riding in them, are getting heavier and heavier, there is uncertainty as to whether the lower anchors can hold this extra weight … with the fear that the lower anchors could break in a crash.
How can you be sure you’re doing it right? If you’re using the seat belt to secure your car seat, you can ignore this paragraph. If you’re using the lower anchors: first check what the vehicle and car seat manufacturer say about the lower anchor weight limits. If the vehicle gives a 65-pound limit: weigh your child, check the weight of the seat, then add them together. If they’re over 65 lbs. combined, start using the seat belt instead of the lower anchors. And remember to use the top tether on every forward-facing car seat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children remain in a car seat (using a 5-point harness) or a booster (using the vehicle’s seat belt across them) until the lap and shoulder belt fit properly. While car seat laws vary state-by-state, children do not, and the AAP provides best practice guidelines from pediatricians who understand children and crash dynamics.
What can you do to ensure your children are being buckled up properly? Have the installation of their car seats checked by someone trained. You can go to seatcheck.org or SafeKids to find someone in your area. (Note: Most police and fire stations are not properly trained.)
Here’s an infographic from The Car Seat Lady that explains how these changes may affect how your car seat is installed:
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