What is the LATCH System?

What is the LATCH system?

There is a job in the world that is quite a bit more difficult than any other position one can hold.  For eighteen years, you are beholden to another human being twenty-four hours a day.  You are responsible for providing them with life sustaining necessities, instilling in them morals and values, and making sure that someone is willing and able to care for you in your advancing age.  There are no raises in this position, no bonuses, and no pats on the back from your boss for a job well done; there’s not even a paycheck.  However, it is also widely known as one of the most rewarding jobs in the world; parenthood.

Tools of the Parenthood Trade

Rewarding or not, being a parent can be difficult, unpredictable, and is relentless.  There are many different complicated devices that have to be figured out including cribs, pack and plays, baby slings, bottle warmers, and worst of all; the car seat.  First, you have to make the right decision about which car seat is the safest or the most practical.  Second, you have to figure out which car seat is appropriate for which life cycle your child is in.  Then, finally, you must discern how to put the thing into the car.  While the first two stages are relatively easy, the third can be next to impossible.

When it comes to putting a car seat into a car, there are a lot of complicated directions parents have to wrestle with, and the manual that comes with the seat is little to no help.  There are videos on the internet that parents can watch to secure the seat for your infant or toddler, but a video can only take you so far.  In order to properly install a car seat, there must be a combination of profanity and practical knowledge.  However, the LATCH system can make it a bit easier.

What is the LATCH system?

LATCH is a system that is legally required to be in nearly every car and car seat since 2002 and it ensures a simplified installation.  Statistics say that 3 out of 4 car seats are installed incorrectly, a terrifying idea when considering a car seat’s primary cargo.  LATCH stands for Low Anchors and Tethers for Children, and it is a system of straps that are built into the car seat itself, and corresponding anchors and attachments in the vehicle.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, LATCH makes it easier to get the installation correct.

When you’re about to start the installation, the first step is to read all of the instructions thoroughly.  This will include the LATCH section of your vehicle’s manual and the instruction manual of the safety seat itself.  The next step is to choose the side of your vehicle on which the seat will be positioned.  While many parents consider center placement of the car seat, many seat manufacturers have recently come out as saying they do not recommend such placement.  The center seat in the car does not have the same standard distances and therefore the safety seat cannot be installed using the same safeguards.

Perhaps the biggest part of car seat installation is the adjustment of the straps and hooks.  Attach the hooks from the base of the infant seat to their own anchor, then adjust the straps.  When tightening the straps, you must push down and back on the seat simultaneously.  Once you have tightened the straps to the fullest extent, it is time to test the stability of the safety seat.  A properly installed seat should move no more than one inch in every direction, so be sure to check before installing your child in the seat.

Parenting is complicated enough, no haggard parents should have to deal with the rigors of installing a car seat without the LATCH system.  One key point to remember, however, is that each vehicle and safety seat is going to be slightly different, so check the manuals before attempting installation.  Don’t make the installation more difficult on yourself by ignoring the directions in front of you, and do the best job possible installing the seat.  When parenting gets rough, at least you’ve got the safety seat down.

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