Keeping up with car seat recommendations can make your head spin, but this is one change you'll want to be aware of. The 2014 rule requires child-seat manufactures to advise against the use of LATCH (required in cars since 2001) if children and their car seats have a combined weight of 65 pounds.
What is LATCH?
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. Lower anchors connect the car seat to the vehicle without the use of the vehicle's seat belts. The tether is a strap that secures the car seat to the frame of the vehicle. When asked if LATCH was safer than a vehicles seat restraint system, highly respected The Car Seat Lady states, "No! Seat belts have always been a very safe and effective way to secure a car seat… the problem is that getting a secure installation with a seat belt is often confusing and challenging. LATCH was invented in an attempt to decrease the misuse rate for car seats by giving parents an easier way to secure the child's car seat to the vehicle."
What is Best?
For children in forward facing car seats, caregivers should be mindful of the weight of their car seat. Once the combined weight of your child and the car seat reach 65 pounds, you must avoid using LATCH and instead use the vehicle's seat belts. For some car seats, that could be as small as a 32-pound child. Use one system or the other, but not both. Continue to use the tether as recommended. The Car Seat Lady offers a helpful guide to finding out how much a car seat weighs, but consult your manufacturer to be sure.
Some car seat manufactures have developed forward facing technology to better assist the consumer navigate this change. Britax, for instance, has developed the ClickTight Technology that allows for simple and secure installation using the vehicle's seat belts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children use car seats with harnesses and boosters through age 8. AAP's recommendation and supporting research led child-seat makers to design more seats for children 65 pounds and over.
-By Vanessa Bell