LATCH Might Make it Easier to Select a Car Seat

Buying a car seat should be as simple as determining which seat is the best fit for your child.

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Wait...that might be a bit misleading.

In theory, LATCH makes it easier to select a car seat, because all new car seats must meet LATCH standards and regulations. So buying a car seat should be as simple as determining which seat will be the best fit for your child. The decision should be simple if all seats meet the same standards, which would seem to indicate quality and effectiveness amongst brands and designs are close, if not actually equal. Comparison shopping should be somewhat simplified, right?

The truth is, manufacturers and marketers always try to one-up each other, even as they maintain the appearance of playing government-regulated nice. That's simply how it is -- a car seat is effective if it saves your child. A car seat is even more effective if more units are sold than the competitor's car seat. So it can be a bit confusing to hear "LATCH is universal!" and walk into a store and be faced with boxes boasting "Our LATCH is better than their LATCH!" But it happens. There are more than 40 companies that make automotive child restraint systems. So, since the introduction of LATCH, children's product manufacturers have designed "super" LATCH hardware and "easier" LATCH installations, and some have even trademarked product names that feature or play off the LATCH acronym. We can't tell you whether these are better than competitors' seats or not. Just use your own judgment when wading through marketing-speak.

So even though you can rest assured the seats on the store shelves all meet government safety requirements, there are still some choices for you to make. Read the sizing information to ensure the seat is appropriate for your child's height and weight. Make a list of the models you like and look online for reviews and information about possible safety recalls. And then, maybe you can attempt to have some fun coordinating color and fabric choices to your car's interior or your baby's favorite blanket.