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Car Seat Harness, LATCH System
Car Seats Features
Car Seat Components.A car seat comprises three critical components: body, harness, and latch system.
The car seat harness refers to the straps that create a seat-belt system to hold a child securely in place. CPSafety.com recommends choosing a car seat with a five-point harness, which fits snugly and provides the best protection for the child in the event of a car accident. It has two straps over the shoulders, two around the hips, and one between the legs. The three-point system, with two shoulder straps that come together with a buckle and fasten between the child's legs, is effective but less secure. You will not find many three-point harnesses these days. Experts at Keepkidshealthy.com stress the importance of positioning the car seat harness so it fits your child properly (at or just below the shoulders when rear-facing and at or just above the shoulders when front-facing), placing the chest clip at armpit level, and tightening the straps. Look for a cheap car seat with adjustable harness straps and multiple shoulder-height positions to accommodate your growing child. Complaints about inadequate car seat harness height occasionally surface in reviews of cheap car seats.
All our picks use the five-point harness system and are adjustable in some way. Both the Safety 1st OnSide Air Convertible Car Seat (starting at $64, Amazon) and the Cosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat (starting at $40, Amazon) are equipped with four shoulder-strap heights and three buckle positions, while the Evenflo Titan Elite (starting at $100, Amazon) has four shoulder-strap positions and two buckle positions. The Graco ComfortSport (starting at $72, Amazon) has three shoulder-strap heights. The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Convertible Car Seat (starting at $100, Amazon) claims to be adjustable but the manufacturer doesn't specify how it adjusts.
The latch secures a convertible car seat to the back seat of a vehicle. Parents of older children and owners of older cars are surely familiar with the hassle of using a seat belt to fix a car seat in place. But most cars and car seats manufactured since Sept. 1, 2002, are equipped with the LATCH system, which relies on anchors and a tether strap to hold the seat in place. If you have an older car, you can buy a kit and install the LATCH system yourself; alternatively, you can secure the seat with a seat belt. All the inexpensive car seats we researched use the LATCH system.
Don't Bother Cheap Convertible Car Seat
Eddie Bauer Deluxe Convertible Car Seat
Installation seems to be a major problem with the Eddie Bauer Deluxe. Consumers gripe that the instructions are complicated and the seat doesn't seem tightly secured. There are also complaints about comfort, with poor head positioning and straps that dig into tiny legs. The five-point harness system is adjustable, although the manufacturer doesn't say how exactly. The seat is equipped with the LATCH system and a removable, washable pad. It's on the heavy side, at 13.8 pounds, but can accommodate rear-facing riders up to 35 pounds, forward-facing passengers from 22 to 40 pounds, and booster-seat riders from 40 to 80 pounds. Read more »
Eddie Bauer Deluxe Convertible Car Seat Review
Graco ComfortSport Review
Evenflo Titan Elite Review
Safety 1st OnSide Air Convertible Car Seat Review
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