2022 Booster Seats with Lower LATCH Connectors
Updated October 23, 2022
Are you looking for a dedicated belt-positioning booster with lower LATCH connectors? When you are a brand-new parent, LATCH is one of the carseat features you treasure most. It’s drilled into you that you must use LATCH to install your carseat. As you become a more seasoned parent and learn the ropes, you learn that LATCH is really a convenience feature and has its own set of rules that may preclude its use, like weight limits, being unable to use LATCH and the seat belt to install a carseat, and being unable to use it in the center of the back seat in many vehicles. But, there are many scenarios in which you can use LATCH.
Did you know that some booster seats have LATCH? It’s true! Perhaps that’s confusing to you because of those LATCH weight limits—booster seats are for higher weight kids, after all—or because you can’t install a carseat with both LATCH and the seat belt. Well, you’re right. Let me explain how it all applies to booster seats.
Once a child is using a booster seat, the seat belt is restraining the child. The lower LATCH connectors are only holding the weight of the booster seat. They are considered a convenience feature so that the booster doesn’t become a projectile in a sudden stop or crash when the child isn’t riding in the vehicle (always read the manual because at least one manufacturer (Chicco) requires the booster to be buckled as well as LATCHed when the seat is not being used). Having the booster “installed” also makes it easier for the child to climb in and buckle up because the booster stays in place. Just because the booster has lower LATCH connectors doesn’t mean you must use them; you can put the connectors in their storage area and use the booster seat as you would any other booster that doesn’t have the feature.
Along with reading the booster seat owner’s manual, read your vehicle owner’s manual. A manufacturer may not allow LATCH use with boosters because the connectors may overlap the buckle, or for other reasons.
What about Combination Seats?
Combination carseats are harnessed seats that convert to belt-positioning booster seats (sometimes called harnessed boosters or harness-to-booster seats). While some combo seats are able to be installed with their LATCH connectors when converted to a booster (check the owner’s manual in the booster section), I’m talking strictly about dedicated belt-positioning boosters here.
Is LATCHing a Booster Safe in a Crash?
Well, it’s complicated. There have been very few studies done on using LATCH with boosters. Rigid LATCH, shown in the pic to the right, keeps the booster tightly coupled to the vehicle and has demonstrated improved outcomes for dummies in side impacts, though flexible strap LATCH (the kind you find on most carseats) may provide better performance in terms of keeping the seat belt in place on the dummy. And it comes down to dummies not acting like human bodies—did I mention it was complicated?
Does this all translate to increased injury? Other passengers in the back seat help mitigate injury, where the impact occurs, and safety features of the vehicle all play a role. What we do know is there needs to be more research done because it’s still relatively new with few boosters having LATCH as a feature. As the research is conducted, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.
The most important thing, whether or not you use a LATCHable booster or not, is to use a booster until your child can pass all 5 steps of the 5-Step test. By doing so, you lower your child’s risk of injury by 45% in a crash.
List of LATCHable Boosters Available in the US