LATCH vs Seat Belt… Which Comes Out On Top?
You’ve done all the shopping, all the research into the safety of a seat and how to use it… and now comes the fun part: installation! Okay, so my definition of fun may vary from yours. But if it’s gotta be done, it might as well be fun, right?
- The straps are always there! Well, unless you cut them off (please don’t do that), they will be.
- They usually make for a worry free install. Just connect the anchor straps to their metal counterparts inside the vehicle seat, tighten them up, and you’re good to go.
- There is a weight limit. The general rule is that the child and the car seat combined must not weigh more than 65lbs. That means if your car seat weighs 25lbs and you’re harnessing a 40lb child, you cannot use LATCH. As the weight of your chosen car seat goes up the acceptable weight of the child goes down.
- Not every vehicle has LATCH in every seating position. In fact, it’s rare to find a vehicle that has every seat equipped with LATCH. For instance, a lot of middle seats in sedans and van benches will be lacking them.
|A vehicle is shown here being lifted up by its seat belt.|
- They are tested to approximately a gajillion pounds of force (okay, that number is actually between 3,000lbs and 5,000lbs); as such, your child will never outgrow the weight limit of a seat belt.
- No LATCH connectors? No problem! Install with the seat belt!
- Some seat belt systems are not compatible with certain car seats. If the buckle for your belt system overlaps with the seating position next to it (I’m looking at you, RAV-4) it will severely limit where you can install a seat while keeping other passengers in the back seat restrained safely. There’s also the possibility that the belt just won’t tighten enough to keep the seat snug.
- Inflatable seat belts are a thing now! While they are a really incredible safety feature for adults, they can throw a wrench into your car seating plans. Most car seat manufacturers haven’t finished testing their products with inflatable belts, and as I’m sure you can imagine, it will take time (and money) to finish that testing. So we have some time before we have a definitive answer on the use of inflatable belts to install child restraints.