Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I recently realized that often car seat users are confused about some terminology. I thought I'd try to set the record straight.

There are three types of connectors for your car seat.

Any car seat can be installed in any car using the car's seat belt. Your car seat manual will have instructions on how to properly do so.

You MUST make sure the seat belt is LOCKED. Most cars on the road have automatic locking retractors, which means you can lock them by pulling the seat belt all the way out and then letting it retract. If your car does not have this feature, you must obtain a locking clip and consult your car seat manual on how to use it properly.

LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. All cars manufactured in the United States since 2002 are required to have LATCH connectors. These are metal loops usually found in the seat crack. Your car seat has a strap with hooks that connect to these loops and is one method for installing a car seat. Check both your vehicle manual and car seat manual for how to find and properly use the LATCH system.

All forward-facing car seats will have a TOP TETHER. This is a strap that is attached to the TOP of the car seat back. Your car is required to have at least 3 anchor points to attach this top tether to. The tether prevents the car seat from pitching forward in a crash, which helps protect your child's head and neck. The anchor points can be found in one of various locations depending on the type of car and the type of seats you have. In a sedan, the anchors are typically found behind the head rest on the shelf above the trunk. On captain's chairs in a van or SUV, they are often near the bottom of the back of the chair. In some cars, the anchors are in the ceiling behind the seat. Check your vehicle manual for the locations of these anchor points!

Here's where it gets confusing!

You should not use both the LATCH and the seat belt for installation.

You SHOULD use the top tether with every forward-facing car seat, regardless of whether you use LATCH or seat belt to install the car seat.