What is LATCH? | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Car Seat Safety for Kids




Learn about LATCH and how it makes installing a child safety seat easier

What is LATCH?

Installing a child safety seat can be difficult. In fact, it is estimated that 3 out of 4 car seats are not installed correctly. The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system was developed to make it easier to correctly install child safety seats without using seat belts. LATCH can be found in vehicles as well as infant, convertible and forward-facing child safety seats, made after September 1, 2002. 

The LATCH system consists of built-in straps and hooks on the safety seat and anchor hardware in the vehicle. When using LATCH, the LATCH anchors and attachments take the place of seat belts. Tuck the seat belts out of the way to avoid interfering with the lower anchoring system.

In most cases, LATCH is not needed or used for booster seats. Check both your vehicle and booster seat manuals.

Where to find LATCH?

In your vehicle

On your child's safety seat

How to install a LATCH-equipped child safety seat?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that using LATCH correctly will cut the number of improperly installed child safety seats in half.

Basic installation steps

If your vehicle is not equipped with LATCH

If your child safety seat has built-in straps for LATCH but your vehicle is not equipped with LATCH, you can install your child safety seat correctly with the seat belt (you will not be using the LATCH straps on the car seat). Check both your vehicle and child safety seat manuals.

Visit the Car Seat Safety by Age section for information and videos on how to install your child safety seat in vehicles not equipped with LATCH.

For help with LATCH or seat belt installation, find a local car safety seat checkpoint for free inspections held in most areas.

LATCH safety tips

For more information about LATCH, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

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Four Key Safety Tips

  • Restrain your child on every trip, every time.
  • Keep your child in the back seat.
  • Use the best safety restraint for your child's size.
  • Use child safety seats and seat belts correctly.

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