Changes to LATCH car seat child restraints

February 27, 2014

This new rule involves the safety labeling for kids' car seats - specifically labeling for the LATCH system - which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children .

LATCH is the system parents can use INSTEAD of a vehicle's seat belt to secure a seat into a car. It's generally more convenient than using a seat belt.

But according to The American Automobile Association (AAA) , 85% of child passenger safety technicians have found problems with the way families use the LATCH system..

The new rule is designed to dramatically reduce that number.

When it comes to the LATCH system, some people think it's safer to use the seat belt and LATCH combined but that is false.

"It's one or the other," says Tracy Noble of AAA."You never want to use both restraint systems."

Another common mistake? Exceeding the LATCH system's weight limit. The 65-pound weight limit includes both your child and the weight of the seat. That hasn't been made clear until now.

A federal rule now requires manufacturers to clearly state the 65-pound weight limit includes the child's weight and the weight of the seat. Companies have a year to comply.

Other critical car seat tips:

  • You MUST read both the owner's manual for your vehicle AND the car seat to ensure proper positioning.
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the highest height and weight limit for the car seat.. For many children, that means until they're 2-years-old.
  • After that, keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness as long as you can. Usually until at least age 5.
  • Then transition to a booster. A child should remain in a booster until he or she is 4-feet-9-inches tall.

And one more important note about putting your child in a car seat, no matter what type. Before you put your kids in their car seats, you must take off their bulky coats, jackets, and snow suits. Straps need to remain tight against the child's chest and any compressibility is dangerous.

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