These attachments on child seats are part of the system known as LATCH, which has been required in cars and child seats for more than 10 years to make installation easier. Y(Photo: James Haba for American Academy of Pediatrics)
Child safety seats will be required to have labels warning about
combined weight limits for the seat and occupant when the built-in LATCH
anchors are used, under a new federal rule expected by late February.
new rule will require child seat makers to include information on the
limits for using LATCH by combining the weight of the seat and the
weight of the child. Seat manufacturers will need to post the weight of
the seat in a number of places so parents can do the math themselves.
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, and nearly
every car seat and most vehicles are required to have the system.
parents are urged to keep children in child seats longer and children
generally get heavier, the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration became concerned whether the anchors for child seats in
cars could withstand all types of crash forces.
expected to be advised to use seat belts - instead of LATCH - to secure
car seats if the child and seat weigh more than 65 pounds combined,
although some believe the limit could be raised to 70 pounds.
example, a car seat weighing 25 pounds would need a label that says,
"LATCH may only be used for children weighing 40 pounds or less."
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay in booster
seats until adult seat belts fit correctly. That usually occurs when
the child is from 8 to 12 years old. Some booster seats go to 120
In a statement, NHTSA would say only that the rule is
expected "in the coming months," but a person involved in the issue who
wasn't authorized to comment publicly said it's likely by the end of
Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for Dorel Juvenile Group,
said her company and other seat makers petitioned to stay the rule
because they feel that it is making a confusing system more so.
safety advocate Joseph Colella says NHTSA should require stronger
anchors if it believes existing ones are inadequate. Most parents don't
know how to properly secure a car seat with a seat belt, he says, and
limiting LATCH increases the likelihood they will get it wrong. "There
is no evidence of the anchors failing," he says. "Making a rule like
this without providing data is premature."