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  1. #1

    LATCH vs. center seat

    We need to get a new car seat for an 11 month old who's ~20 pounds and nearly to the top of his infant seat. The vehicle he's riding in is a 2001.5 VW Passat wagon. We want to get a convertible seat because there are a few (e.g. Cosco and Britax Roundabout) that allow us to leave the baby in a rear facing position (which we know is the safest position) until he's 35 pounds.


    1) Is it safer to use:

    (a) the LATCH system, which requires that the seat is placed in the left or right side seats (child is more vulnerable to side impact)

    (b) the center seat which protects from side impacts but does not allow us to use the LATCH system (seat belt only).

    2) Do any rear facing convertible seats allow the use of a tether? Does it increase the child's safety or is it only to stablize the seat?

    Thanks for any assistance.

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  3. #2

    LATCH and positions

    LATCH is not necessarily any safer than using seatbelts. If you can usually get a tight fit with the seatbelts and don't find it a hassle, then LATCH may not be a necessary feature for you. On the other hand, in many cases, LATCH can make it easier to install properly. I find this to be true more for front-facing than rear-facing, at least for a Cosco Triad in my minivan. Others have also commented that LATCH has more compatibility issues when rear-facing in general, so you'd have to try it to be sure. The center position is somewhat safer, but if you can get a better fit in an outboard positions (with or without LATCH), then that would take precedence.</P>

    The Britax Roundabout and Advantage can use a tether rear-facing. It can improve safety somewhat, but rear-facing seats are inherently very safe if used properly. There is a little more information on this in our LATCH and tether guide here:
    LATCH and Tether Info </p>

    Also note that the Cosco Triad/Touriva go to 35 pounds, while the Roundabout goes to 30 pounds. I own both of these carseats. With our cars, I prefer the Roudnabout for rearfacing. It's a draw for front-facing. Obviously, your vehicles, kids and preferences for features will be different than ours, so I can't make the best recommendation. Keeping your child rear-facing to 30 or 35 pounds is probably much more important! You may even find one seat or another doesn't fit your child or car well, and that will narrow the choices. Having a good return policy and having a technician check your seats is also a good idea. </p>

    Good luck!

  4. #3

    I don't have latch, but I much prefer the RA!

    I just purchased two Touriva for someone else (long story ). Anyway, I had the Tourivas and Roundabouts in my living room for a while to compare them side by side. The Roundabout does "only" rear face to 30 lbs, but my daughter's growth has slowed now, and she's "still" rear facing in hers at 17 months with lots of room to grow! The Roundabout has lots of nice features that the Touriva (and Triad) lack, *and* it has higher top harness slots, so it's possible you'll be able to use it *front* facing longer than the Cosco seat.

    I took an entire roll of pictures comparing the fit of both of my children in the Touriva and the Roundabout. If you'd like to see the results, go to . At the time, Roman was 3 years 4 mo and 39.5 in/32 lbs. Eva was 16 months and 32.5 in/22 lbs.

  5. #4


    Thanks for your replies. Based on them I decided to buy both the Roundabout and Triad to compare them at home. We like the Roundabout the most despite the price tag, but when I installed it rear facing in the center seat of our car, I couldn't believe how easy it was to tip the car seat back (by this I mean: in rear facing mode I could take the back of the seat and move it up and toward the back of the car. I used a towel to stabilize and side to side movement, but the seat pivoted on the seat belt so easily. It seems like if we were in a crash, my son might smash his face on the rear seat back. Can't believe this is right - but there's nothing in the Britax owner's manual.

    To further elaborate - if the Passat had an anchor on the floor just behind the front seats, I could see fastening the top tether to it to keep it from flipping backward - unfortunately, that floor tehter does not exist. I haven't tried the Britax tehter to the back seat (which I know I can deploy) because it seems like it would only make matters worse.

    Am I doing something wrong?

  6. #5
    cps tech

    Rearfacing seats usually do have that type of movement (m)

    You will find that all rearfacing seats will have movement when pulling the back of the child seat towards the back of the vehicle seat. This type of movement is fine and is perfectly safe; they call it the cocooning effect. It can even help protect your child from flying glass/objects in a crash. That said, you can minimize the movement by tethering the Roundabout to a non-moving part that is bolted to the floor such as where the front seat is bolted down or where the seat belt anchor for the front seat is attached to the floor. You want the tether point to be within 20 degrees of the center of the child seat. Your Roundabout also probably came with a strap with a D-ring on it that can be used to wrap around an acceptable tether point if there is no place to attach the tether hook. There should be instructions in your Britax manual regarding this. Please keep in mind that you may not tether the Triad rearfacing. Rearfacing seats do not require a specific tether anchor like is needed for forward facing seats because there are a lot less forces applied when rearfacing.

    I do have a question about how you used a towel to stabilize side to side movement. In general, towels or pool noodles are only used to get a 45 degree angle for newborns. Since your child is 11 months, a more upright position is safer. If you are having side to side movement, it might not be a good fit between the child seat and the vehicle, or you may need to try a different seating position in the car. A certified tech in your area could check the installation to be sure it's in properly.

    I hope this helps. If you need any clarifications, let us know.

    Krista - certified child passenger safety technician

  7. #6

    Re: Rearfacing seats usually do have that type of movement (

    Thanks for the helpful information. The Passat wagon back seat is fairly deep - with the towel in place it brings the Britax seat base to near horiontal position. It looks like if the base is not beyond horizontal then the seat isn't going to recline past 45 degrees. I think I'd have a similar problem with the Triad but I'll test that one, too.

    Also, where can I find a certified seat technician?

  8. #7


    Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator

    Child Passenger Safety Contact Locator

    Also, there should have been at least one (maybe two) loose sheets of paper with your RA instructions which talk about how to tether the seat rear facing. I overlooked those the first time I installed mine.

  9. #8

    Re: Technicians...

    Thanks Ulrike - I'll check out those sites. The Britax web site had very good directions including photos of acceptable anchor points. I'd recommend the online documentation as at least an excellent supplement to the booklet in the package. Plus it's more likely to be up to date.

    I ended up locating an excellent anchor point on the Passat passenger seat rail (after removing a decorative plastic cover). The seat is in and rock solid. I'm going to have a seat tech check it out just to be sure. The Triad is going back to the store today. We like the features and and easy of use on the Roundabout. BTW Ulrike, those are two cute kids you've got there.

  10. #9


    I think my kids are cute, too.

    I hadn't seen the Britax instructions online. That's a great resource!

    A word of warning, the rear facing tether feature on the Roundabout is unique, so the technician(s) you see may not be familiar with it. Be prepared to educate them (i.e., provide the instructions) on using the tether rear facing with this particular seat. The seat should fit properly without the tether (where the techs come in handy) with the tether adding extra stability and security in a crash. If it doesn't fit without the tether, it doesn't fit period.

    I'm glad you like the seat. I'm totally spoiled by mine! I think my 2 Britax seats were the best purchases I ever made. I've never buying them or had second thoughts, and I can't say that about anything else I've spent over a hundred dollars on!

  11. #10

    Tethers and Roundabout

    There are also some comments on this subject in the FAQ and LATCH guide at It never hurts to have a seat checked, but like Ulrike said, some techs have more experience with rear-facing tethers than others do. If you go to an event or make an appointment, try to see if an instructor or senior checker will be available just in case.

  12. #11

    Passat LATCH

    I was under the impression that in the VW Passats you could use latch in any of the three backseat positions.


  13. #12

    No LATCH in center

    Anchors are only provided for the two outboard positions, and there is indeed a special warning NOT to use the innermost anchors for the center position.

  14. #13


    Why could you not use them? How would that make it less safe?

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