We know the Lil Fan High-Back Booster Seats will be a big hit with die-hard fans all across the country – moms, dads and kids alike. Both high-back and backless versions of the booster seats are available in fashions featuring about 75 college and Major League Baseball teams. So whether you’re a fan of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, or some other team, you’re likely to find a seat for your little fan. (Fans of other leagues and teams should watch for new fashions to come out in the future.)
Personally, I’d have a hard time choosing between the Michigan State University (my alma mater) and University of Michigan (where I’ve worked for years) seats. But mostly I’m just glad that Kecia, Darren and Heather didn’t get funny and send me an Ohio State seat.
The Lil Fan Booster is a dual mode product. That means that it can be used as a highback booster until the back portion is outgrown, then you can continue to use the bottom portion as a backless booster until your child can pass the 5-Step Test and safely transition to using the adult seatbelt. The Lil Fan booster is available at Amazon, babiesrus.com, buybuybaby.com and other retailers.
Lil Fan High-Back Specs & Features
- Highback: 30-110 lbs.; 38-57” tall; at least 4 years old*
- Backless: 40-110 lbs.; 40-57″ tall; at least 4 years old*; with proper head support from the vehicle’s head restraint
- 7 height positions
- Unique shoulder belt guide design helps keep belt from slipping out
- 6 year lifespan before expiration
*Age limit of at least 4 years old is listed on the box, but not in the owner’s manual or on labels on the booster.
Shoulder Belt Guide – The shoulder belt guide opens at the top and has a “lip” on the bottom to keep the shoulder belt from slipping out accidentally. Even though my five-year-old pulls the belt out most of the way when she buckles, she had no trouble keeping the belt from slipping out of the belt guide, as sometimes happens with other boosters.
The removable cupholder can be used on either side of the seat. This flexibility is nice when you want a cupholder (and what kid doesn’t?) but can’t use it on one particular side because it adds to the width of the seat. (For instance, if you’re using the seat “outboard” or next to another car seat, you’ll probably want the cupholder to be on the opposite side.)
Lil Fan Measurements
- 7 height positions: lowest 14.5″; tallest 20.5″ (measured to bottom of shoulder belt guide)
- Depth of seating area: 13″
- Width of seating area: 10″ wide at back; 13″ wide near the cupholders
- Widest point overall: 17″ at armrests
Always adjust the height of the booster so the shoulder belt guide is positioned at or slightly above the child’s shoulders. Once your child’s shoulders are above the shoulder belt guide in the top height setting – the back has been outgrown and you should remove it and use just the bottom portion. The Lil Fan isn’t the tallest booster so it might not be the best choice if you have a very tall or long-torsoed child who needs to use a highback booster for a long time. However, it’s not extraordinarily short, and the seat does turn into a backless booster, so it should last most children until they pass the 5-step test and are ready to use only the seatbelt.
The belt fit on my older model was great in both highback and backless mode. The shoulder belt rested nicely between her neck and her shoulder when the headrest was in the correct height setting, and the lapbelt was low, touching the tops of her thighs. She did mention that the side wings were a little narrow and she would prefer backless mode if this were her regular seat. She’s 9-1/2, though, and most kids that age would be using this as a backless booster anyway. My younger model didn’t complain about the side wings.
The lap belt fit on my smaller model was also excellent. I wasn’t quite as happy with the shoulder belt fit on her – the shoulder belt was too close to the edge of her shoulder, so I had to move the headrest up a notch or two to move the belt back where it should be. (The shoulder belt needs to be positioned in such a way that it will “catch” on the collarbone in a crash, preventing the child from rotating out of the belt.) Of course, booster fit varies by child and even vehicle-to-vehicle, so your best bet is to try it in person if possible.
5.5 years old, 43″ tall, 40 lb.
The Lil Fan does come with a shoulder belt positioning strap/clip that can be used if necessary when using the seat in backless mode. The strap/clip is attached underneath the seat, making it easy to keep track of it – these often get lost when they are not attached to the seat. Most kids won’t need to use this strap because they are tall enough not to need it by the time they transition to backless mode. (My older model, for example, still had a little growing room in highback mode but the shoulder belt fit her quite well in backless mode.) Still, it’s nice to have – just in case.
The Lil Fan booster is about average in width, which means it may fit well in many vehicles. The width may be a challenge in some situations such as tight 3-across setups, but the curved back of the bottom seat may be an advantage that allows small hands to reach down and buckle.
Cover & Comfort
The cover is lightly padded and the fabric is attached to the headrest with snaps; the back portion of the cover snaps to itself around the back; and the seat portion fits snugly with elastic. The cover is easy to remove and replace. The cover can be machine washed in cold water on delicate cycle using mild detergent; drip-drying is recommended. I was pleased to see that the cover can be machine washed because the first thing I thought when I saw my maize-and-blue seat was that the maize was going to attract dirt like crazy. (My kids spend a lot of time in the car – I drive them to and from school every day – and it’s not unusual for them to eat the remainder of their lunches in the car, for instance.) I appreciate knowing that I can easily remove the cover and pop it in the wash when needed.
Lifespan/Crash Replacement Guidelines/Inflatable Seat Belts
- 6 year lifespan before expiration
- Must be replaced after any crash
Lil Fan Advantages
- Relatively easy for kids to buckle themselves in
- Converts to backless booster when back is outgrown
- Curved seat pan may facilitate buckling in tight three-across situations
- Shoulder belt guide design makes it difficult for seatbelt to slip out of guide unintentionally
- Doesn’t require support from a vehicle head restraint
- Cover is machine washable
(In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Lil Fan Highback Booster issues)
- Not as tall as other highback boosters currently on the market
- Made in China
Anything that gets older kids (and adults) excited about a booster seat is going to be a win. Every. Single. Time. The statistics on booster usage are depressing and we know from experience that most parents ditch the boosters long before their kids can actually ride safely in just the adult seatbelt. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also know that some parents move their little kids into boosters too early and that is a concern in this case, since there isn’t a minimum age requirement on this actual product. Let’s be clear that booster seats are not recommended for the preschool crowd. Just because the minimum weight limit is 30 lbs. doesn’t mean you should rush to put a 2 or 3 year old into a booster seat. My youngest is 5, and she’s just now reaching the point where I allow her to use a booster for short trips once in a while – preferably if her siblings aren’t in the car to distract or bother her.
While Lil Fan boosters are more expensive than other comparable products, you have to keep in mind that licensing agreements are very expensive, and Lil Fan has a LOT of licenses. In this case, you are obviously paying a premium for a team logo on the cover. But the same can be said for every designer handbag, sunglasses or pair of shoes. It may not be for everyone but that doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect seat for some. I work at the University of Michigan, and people would go crazy for a seat like this to complete their maize and blue collection, and I know that the same is true for my many Michigan State family and friends. (Heck, if I didn’t WORK at U-M, I might consider an MSU seat, but I’m not driving around campus with one in my van.)
For more info please see the Lil Fan webpage: https://lilfan.com/product-category/booster-seats/high-back-2-in1-booster/