Baby Trend LATCH-Loc Infant Seat

C

Caviller

Guest
The Baby Trend LATCH-Loc is an infant carrier/base carseat system. It is rated rear-facing with a harness from 5 to 20 pounds.




<A HREF="http://www.babytrend.com/Latchlocarseat.htm" TARGET="_TOP"
><IMG SRC="http://www.babytrend.com/6078.jpg" ALIGN="middle"></A>Baby Trend LATCH-Loc


<b>Introduction</b>

The Baby Trend LATCH-Loc is the first carseat available with the rigid LATCH system. Most current carseats must have LATCH, but all of them so far have flexible LATCH attachment straps. While these are often easier to use than seatbelts, they aren't nearly as convenient as the rigid attachments that were the original concept behind the LATCH system. Rigid LATCH offers an extremely easy way to get a solid installation, typically in much less than a minute. In addition, the LATCH-Loc offers many other convenient features usually found only in the top-of-the line infant seats.

<b>Features and Advantages:</b>

<i>Rigid LATCH Installation</i>- The base offers solid steel LATCH attachment bars. Push the gray release buttons, extend the bars, click them onto the lower anchors in your vehicle, then push the base firmly into the seat. In most vehicles, it should be solidly installed in seconds! More details on the LATCH system in general can be found here:
http://www.car-safety.org/latch.html

<i>Base and Carrier compatible with Seatbelt Installations</i>- Like all current carseats, the LATCH-Loc carrier and base can also be installed with seatbelts. The carrier itself does not offer LATCH at all, and can only be installed with seatbelts when you do not have the base. Extra bases can be purchased directly from Baby Trend for around $40.

<i>5-point Harness</i>- This is the type of harness most recommended by child passenger safety advocates. It usually offers the best fit and the most protection from ejection.

<i>Rear-Facing to 20 pounds</i>- Rear-facing is the safest form of travel for infants and toddlers. The 20 pound limit allows all but the biggest babies to remain rear-facing in this carseat up to a year. Some versions do appear to be labeled to 20 pounds, so please verify this in your manual. An updated version should be on the shelves in June, 2003.

<i>Front Harness Adjuster</i>- This makes it easy to get a tight harness fit without having to remove the carseat. Experts recommend that the straps be tight on baby's shoulders. You should not be able to easily fit more than a finger between the straps and shoulders or pinch away any strap material.

<i>Two harness slots</i>- These are relatively easy to adjust, and should fit small newborns and large infants well. For rear-facing, it is recommended to use a harness strap position that is even with baby's shoulders or below. A newer version will apparently have an adjustable back that does not require threading the harness slots.

<i>Two-piece Harness Retainer Clip</i>- This style tends to be easier to use and prevents twisty straps more than the one-piece "paper-clip" style. It is also harder for escape artists to release.

<i>Adjustable Crotch Strap</i>- Allows an adjustable fit to accomodate big and small infants.

<i>Puzzle Buckle</i>- Though some parents find this style a bit harder to use, others like it because it makes sure both sides of the harness are securely buckled.

<i>Head Impact Foam</i>- Like a few other high end carseats, the LATCH-Loc includes EPS foam around the head rather than hard plastic. This is the same kind of foam used in bicycle helmets.

<i>Easy Recline Indicator</i>- Some recline indicators are not very accurate. This indicator was always very close to the 45 degree maximum recline recommended for newborns and small infants. Small indicator holes show orange if the angle is too much or too little, and are black when the angle is OK. A little less recline is OK for older babies, and a second recline indicator is provided for babies between 20-22 pounds.

<i>Easy Angle Adjustment Knob</i>- The knob is located on the same side as baby's head. It is easy to use. Unlike other infant seats, the knob makes a height adjustment on the side of the baby's head. This is because the rigid LATCH attachments won't work with an adjustment at the foot like other models.

<i>Nice triangular handle</i>- While it looked awkward at first, the triangular shape on the carrying handle was remarkably comfortable to hold. The carrier is also relatively light. As with most infant carriers, the handle must be placed down (or back) when it is installed in the car.

<i>Large Canopy</i>- Extends and retracts easily.

<i>Compatible with various Baby Trend stroller systems</i>

Overall, the LATCH-Loc has just about every feature you could want in an infant carrier system.

<b>Disadvantages:</b>

<i>Seatbelt Installation</i>- Depending on the configuration of your seatbelts, seatbelt installation can be a bit tricky. Carseat advocates recommend that the base or carrier should be installed such that there is less than one inch of movement side-to-side and front-to-back when the carseat is gripped where the seatbelt is routed. It was somewhat difficult to get acceptable side-to-side movement with a seatbelt installation, and I could not get it as solid as the LATCH system in any vehicles I tried. This is only a disadvantage if it is true in your particular vehicle. If you don't have LATCH and find it fits well with seatbelts in your car, then it is still a very good choice!

<i>Recline Adjustment Range</i>- The recline adjustment does not have a large range. Though it adjusted properly in all vehicles I tried, it is possible that it would not be enough in vehicles with unusually contoured seats.

<i>Carrier Release</i>- While the operation is smooth, the mechanism to release the carrier from the base can be hard to reach in some vehicles. You must reach around the front of the carrier, between the foot of the carrier and the vehicle seat to find the release.

<i>Heavy Base</i>- With the solid steel LATCH attachments, the base is rather heavy. This should not be an issue since most people leave the base installed in their vehicle. If you plan to move the base around a lot, this may be a concern.

<i>Removing the Base</i>- While installation is a snap, removal is slightly more difficult. First, you again release the LATCH bars by pushing the easy-to-access gray release buttons. To release the LATCH clamps, you must depress the red release buttons on the bars. This requires a bit more strength and dexterity in some vehicles, but still no more difficult to remove than most flexible LATCH attachment hooks.

If you will be using seatbelts and the LATCH-Loc does fit in your vehicle, the rest of these issues are all relatively minor. The LATCH LOC also may not fit at all in some vehicles because of the locations of the anchors or the countour of the seat, so even if your vehicle has LATCH there is no guarantee of a good fit. For most vehicles, it should work well, though.

<b>Conclusion</b>

The LATCH-Loc is the first of the rigid LATCH carseats. (Britax has just released the second rigid LATCH carseat, the new Expressway ISOFIX which is forward facing for kids 20-40 pounds). If you have a newer vehicle with the LATCH system and are looking for an infant seat, this one should be among your top choices.

The LATCH-Loc is a fully featured infant carrier system that makes installation very easy with a new LATCH-equipped vehicle. I tried this in a 2001 Honda Odyssey, a 2001 Chrysler Town & Country and a 2002 Chevrolet Impala with great results. I also tried seatbelt installation in these vehicles and a few others. With some effort, I did get an acceptable fit using the seatbelts in all seating positions. In a couple spots, this did take significant effort, and I have quite a bit of experience with carseat installations. If not for the great rigid-LATCH system, I would have rated this product a "3.5" for ease of use and "4-stars" overall.

This model is competitively priced at $80 even if you don't consider the rigid LATCH. It offers many of the same features as its competition and one or two more. The manual is above average, with reasonably good illustrations. So far, Babies R Us is the only retailer where I have seen this model.

Details on the LATCH-Loc can be found here:
http://www.babytrend.com/Latchlocarseat.htm

<b>For more information on child restraints and LATCH please visit:

http://www.car-safety.org

http://www.seatcheck.net</b>


The epinions review is found here:

Caviller's Epinions Review of the Baby Trend LATCH-Loc
 
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