When you're looking for the perfect car seat, the options are limitless. You can find a car seat at every price point and in practically every color in the rainbow. And, if you're anything like me, all of those choices can give you some serious anxiety. If you know what to look for before you go shopping, it can make your search a lot easier. But you may be surprised to know that the most important part of your car seat isn't what you'd think.
If you had to choose the most important component of your baby's car seat, you might be inclined to think that it's the seat base or the harness. But the truth is, one of the most important parts of your car seat doesn't actually touch your baby at all.
The tether is a part of the car seat that is rarely talked about, but should be on the mind of every parent when they drive their kids around. As Cars.com noted, the tether is a strap which anchors the child seat against your vehicle's seat back. Even though it's just a small strap, it plays a big part in keeping your kid safe while they are in the car. Tethering your child's car set to the seat of your car keeps the seat from moving forward or side to side as you drive, and in the event of a crash. As Sarah Tilton, Director of Consumer Advocacy for BRITAX Child Safety, Inc. tells Romper, "using the top tether can reduce head movement by four to six inches."
Because the tether is crucial to car seat safety, you would think every parent would be aware of its importance. But Cars.com noted that 52 percent of parents use forward-facing car seats and do not use their car seat's top tether strap. Furthermore, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3 out of every 4 car seats are not properly secured. As a result of this overwhelming statistic, the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether for Children) system was created to ensure that every car seat and cars created after 2002 have the equipment needed to safely install the car seat without a seatbelt.
Most cars on the road today come equipped with tether anchors, but if your car is an older model, the anchors may not be available. However, as long as your car was built after 1989, it is possible to have a car dealer retrofit your vehicle with anchors, as Cars.com mentioned.