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What is Latch?

Oct 11, 2007
As a new parent, there are a lot of new terms and ideas that you need to familiarize yourself with. One of the major ones is LATCH. This five letter word could mean the difference between life and death for your new baby. So it is imperative that you learn all you can about this seatbelt safety system.

LATCH is a new standardized child restraint system designed to simplify child safety seat installation and enhance child safety. The result of a new government regulation aimed at reducing the number of car seats that are installed improperly, the goal of the new LATCH system is simple: To increase the effectiveness of car seats by requiring an easy-to-use anchorage system independent of the vehicle seat belts.

The LATCH system calls for vehicles to be equipped with one upper (tether) and two lower anchorage points. The upper (tether) anchorage will be a ring-like object permanently attached to the vehicle on either the rear filler panel or on the cargo floor, depending on the vehicle. The two lower anchorages will be a set of two small bars in the rear seat of the vehicle, generally located where the seat cushion meets the seat back. Outfitted with permanently affixed hooks or buckles that are compatible with the anchorages in the vehicle, LATCH-equipped car seats will now attach to the vehicle seat via these anchorages instead of being held by the vehicle's seat belts. By September 1, 2002, the LATCH system will be required in two rear-seating positions in all new cars, minivans, and light trucks.
What do I do if I don't have a LATCH-equipped car?

There is no need to worry; all car seats are also able to be secured using a standard belt system. Regardless of which system you use to secure your seat, it is recommended that you get it checked out by a professional just to rule out any potential problems.

Get your LATCH checked out

Before you put your baby in the car seat for the first time, you should get your car seat checked out by a trained professional. Most towns have such services available through the fire department or local police department.

If your car is ever in a wreck, you will need to get a new car seat immediately as well as possibly new latch anchors. Discuss your options with the police department.

With a little bit of knowledge, you and your little one can rest safely knowing that you are in the best hands possible with the LATCH system.
About the Author
Sarah Jones is a mom on a mission. She is the creator of MyBabyTravelGear.com which features the latest and greatest baby gear and supplies, to help you and your little one travel in comfort and style.
Find a wide assortment of car seats , strollers, diaper bags, carriers and more at her site, http://www.MyBabyTravelGear.com.
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