Rear-facing Tethering: Why, What, & How

There seems to be a lot of confusion about rear-facing tethering… so here are a few things to know:

1. The ONLY seats in the US that allow rear-facing tethering are:

***Note: Original versions of the Coccoro & Primo Viaggio 5-70 did not mention rear-facing tethering in the manual, nor did the seats come with a rear-facing tether connector strap. However, both Combi & Peg Perego made retroactive changes allowing all Coccoros & PV 5-70’s to be tethered rear-facing. You can call the respective companies to get a tether connector strap for the seat if you have an older model that didn’t come with one.

2. Do NOT tether any other rear-facing seat except the ones listed above. Other seats were not designed to do this, and doing so could injure the child in a crash. 

3. If your seat allows rear-facing tethering DO IT! While rear-facing tethering is optional on the above seats, it is a GREAT option and you should take advantage of it whenever possible as it acts as an anti-rebound device to eliminate the motion of the car seat towards the back of the vehicle.

We get lots of questions from parents asking if they should use the tether – and hear too many stories of trained techs telling parents to skip the rear-facing tether. In light of the above, we want to clarify that the rear-facing tether should be used whenever possible on these seats.

But, don’t take our word for it, here’s what the manufacturers say in their instruction manuals: 

Also, it doesn’t matter how you are securing the rest of the car seat – lower anchors or seat belt. If you are using the lower anchors, you should use the rear-facing tether too. If you are using the seat belt, you should use the rear-facing tether too.

4. Does your car have a rear-facing tether anchor? Likely no!

Can you still tether a rear-facing seat in your car? Likely yes!

Volvos are the only cars that come with rear-facing tether anchors; after all, tethering down to the floor of the car is known as “Swedish-style” tethering and Volvo’s are Swedish cars.

volvo rear facing tether anchors on seat track

Unless you have a Volvo, you’ll need to MAKE a rear-facing tether anchor in your car… which is very simple and requires no drills or tools.

Rear-facing tether connector strap

Rear-facing tether connector strap

Your child’s car seat should have come with a short black strap that is about a foot long – it will have a metal ring on one end a stitched loop on the other end – and should look similar to the strap pictured to the right. You will use this strap to create a rear-facing tether anchor.

If you have an older Combi Coccoro or Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 5-70, your seat did not come with this short strap – but you can order one from the company. For Combi seats, order online here. If you have a Britax or Diono/Sunshine Kids seat and have misplaced your strap, you can order a new strap online – Britax here, Diono here

The rear-facing tether needs to be attached to something that is metal and part of the structural frame of the car. The track for the front seat is typically the best (and only) acceptable location. Note: you don’t want to tether to the front seat itself, but rather the track for the front seat. You will select the track that is closest to the car seat. For a car seat in the center, choose the inner seat track for either front seat. For a car seat on the passenger side, choose either the inner or outer seat track for the front passenger seat. For a car seat on the driver side, choose the inner or outer seat track for the driver’s seat.

This video here shows how to set up for a Swedish-style (down to the floor of the car) rear-facing tether. While the video shows a Diono seat, the set up is the same for all US seats that allow Swedish-style rear-facing tethering.

This video here shows the installation of the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible rear-facing using the lower anchors + rear-facing tether.

Step-by-step guide to installing a car seat with a rear-facing tether:

  1. Move the front seat up all the way — don’t worry, you’ll be able to move the front seat back when you’re done.
  2. Many seat tracks have a cosmetic plastic cap on the end. It is typically helpful to remove this plastic cap to allow the tether connector strap to slide as far back on the seat track as possible, which in turn will allow the front seat to come as far back when you are done. Removing the plastic cap typically requires some brute force. You’ll be able to put the plastic cap back on when the child goes forward-facing.
  3. Take the tether connector strap (the short black strap) and pass it under the seat track – then, pass the metal end through the stitched loop to create a slip-knot around the seat track. That’s it! Now you have a rear-facing tether anchor.
  4. Install the child’s car seat using either the seat belt or the lower anchors (whichever is appropriate for where you are installing the seat).
  5. Connect the hook on the tether strap to the metal end on the tether connector strap.
  6. Move the front seat back as far as it goes – leave enough room to fit a finger between the child’s car seat and the front seat.
  7. Tighten the rear-facing tether so as to remove the slack… but don’t crank down on the tether – it doesn’t need to be super-duper tight. (Note: when you tether a forward-facing car seat, you want this strap as tight as possible).

 

Note: Britax seats allow for 2 types of rear-facing tethering – Swedish style as shown above where the tether is attached to the track of the front seat, and Australian style where the tether goes towards the back of the car and connects to the tether anchor that is used for forward-facing car seats. The Peg Perego, Combi, and Diono/Sunshine Kids seats ONLY allow for the Swedish method.