Mythbusting: LATCH vs Seatbelt Installation

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In this episode of CarseatBlog Mythbusting, we look at the common perception that LATCH installations are safer than seat belt installations.

Myth: For the safest installation, install your carseat using the LATCH system, not the seat belt.

As most people know, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) is touted to be the easiest and most simple way to install your child’s car seat. Because it’s somewhat “new” and is more frequently mentioned, a lot of people just assume it is safer to use the lower anchors and tether instead of the seat belt and tether (when indicated).

 Evenflo Momentum - tethered

The LATCH system was designed to simplify car seat installation, which in theory would reduce the risk of the seat being installed incorrectly. Simply put, the easier it is, the more likely someone will get it right. A correctly installed car seat is a safe car seat. Seat belts can be finicky at times and the different types of locking mechanisms can be confusing. However, it’s not so cut and dry. LATCH systems are differently placed in different cars. Some are extremely easy to access, and some are buried deep and almost impossible to reach. Not all cars have lower LATCH anchors in the center seating position, and many people prefer to install in the center so the child is furthest from any point of impact. In fact, one of the most common statements I hear from parents is, “I installed the carseat on the side instead of the center because my car does not have LATCH in the center and I was told LATCH is safer”. Add in the new LATCH weight limits and things get really hairy.

A carseat installed correctly with a seat belt (and tether, if forward-facing) is just as safe as a carseat installed correctly with the LATCH system of lower anchors and a top tether. In some cars, the lower LATCH anchors are buried and it is easier to get a proper install with a seat belt. In other cars, the anchors may be beautifully easy to access and it’s quicker to click, tighten, and go. It really depends on your vehicle, your child, and your car seat. One method triumphing another in terms of overall safety is false. Consider this myth busted!

LATCH_sketch

Note: Most infant seat bases and rear-facing convertibles are installed using just the lower anchors. Forward-facing seats are installed using the tether too.

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Evenflo Momentum Convertible Carseat Review – Lookin’ Good!

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Evenflo Momentum DLX - LilacThe Evenflo Momentum convertible is back on the market after taking a break to get a fashion makeover. I’m pleased that this seat is available once again because I was always a fan of its features. Now, thanks to a team of talented Evenflo fashionistas, the Momentum looks as good as it performs! This seat offers the perfect blend of features from the popular Evenflo Symphony 3-in-1 and Evenflo Triumph convertible. It’s also one of the easiest carseats to use properly for younger kids of different ages and sizes which makes it a great choice for grandparents, babysitters and anyone else who needs one carseat that can be easily adjusted to fit babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Momentum Specs & Features:

  • Rear-Facing 5-40 lbs.; 19- 37” tall and top of head is at least 1″ below top of carseat
  • Forward-Facing 22-65 lbs.; 28-50” tall and at least 1 year old (AAP recommends rear-facing until at least age 2)
  •  “Infinite Slide” harness system easily adjusts to the perfect height for your child
  • SureLATCH Connectors
  • 3 recline positions (1 position for RF, 2 for FF)
  • “e3″ Side-Impact Protection – thick, energy-absorbing EPP foam lines the deep headwings
  • 2-piece infant insert
  • Buckle pockets
  • FAA approved for use on airplane
  • Made in USA!

Momentum Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height: (with insert) 7″
  • Highest harness height: 16″
  • Single crotch strap/buckle position: 6.5″
  • Overall internal height: 25″
  • External width at widest point: 20.5″
  • Width of base: 11.5″ across the back
  • Weight: 19.4 lbs. (according to my digital bathroom scale)

Evenflo Momentum - naked Evenflo Momentum - naked Evenflo Momentum - back

Installation Comments:

Carpool Lanes and Kids

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wooden dummy screen shotI’ve long teased my kids that the only reason I had them was to be able to use the carpool lanes during rush hour. And while they’re a lifelong commitment for a minor convenience, it’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable using the carpool lanes with them as my passengers in the car. I wonder why that is, especially in our society where cops see broomsticks with fake heads and blow-up dolls as passengers.

Long before we had carpool lanes (aka high-occupancy vehicle–HOV–lanes) in my city, we used to have to travel down to Phoenix every other week while my son had his DOC band adjusted (for plagiocephaly). Phoenix, being a modern city, had carpool laneshov and I so wanted to use them but it seemed odd to declare my 8 month old as my 2nd passenger. He couldn’t be seen through the tinting in my van’s windows, so I could very easily have been pulled over wasting both my time and the police officer’s. I never used the carpool lane.

I guess I determined that my children were worthy carpool lane passengers when their heads could be seen through the back window. I have tinting, but you can still see shapes through it. It seemed too much of a risk for me until then. I’ve only received one ticket in my driving career and I don’t mind saying it was for hitting a parked car 6 weeks after I got my driver’s license (a well-deserved ticket that the police officer hesitantly wrote, as I recall). We all do stupid things when we’re 16, right? Like throw toilet paper at future husbands and their friends while driving? Yeah.

When do you feel kids become full-on carpool lane-worthy passengers? Is there a law in your state that dictates an age? Do you even use the carpool lane?

New seats added to the “Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison”!

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Evenflo Momentum - RF space comparisonOur Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison is one of our most popular reference articles and I’m pleased to report that it has been recently updated. We now have space grades and data for the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85, Evenflo Momentum & Safety 1st Advance EX 65 Air+ (that’s the newest Advance model with the 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit). All in all, there are now over 30 higher-weight convertible seats that have been evaluated and graded in our comparison. I’m hoping to add data on the Clek Fllo in the near future.

As we pointed out in the original article – there are so many variables that go into every carseat/vehicle compatibility scenario that it’s impossible to accurately predict which seat is going to be the “best” convertible for rear-facing *your* child in *your* vehicle. The complexity of the situation is amplified by the plethora of options and features available on various convertibles. Still, it was our intention here at CarseatBlog to put together a comprehensive comparison that would serve as a resource for parents and caregivers searching for an extended-use convertible that would keep their rear-facing toddler or older child safe and comfortable without sacrificing the safety and comfort of the driver and/or front seat passenger.

http://carseatblog.com/22818/the-ultimate-rear-facing-convertible-space-comparison-review-size-matters/