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Title:
Rockable sleeping compartments attachable to play yards and methods of operating the same
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Rockable sleeping compartments attachable to play yards and methods of operating the same are disclosed. A disclosed example includes a play yard and an infant sleeping compartment mounted to the play yard for rocking movement.


Inventors:
Bretschger, Ted (Hinsdale, IL, US)
Casati Troutman, Damon Oliver (Lake Forest, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/101821
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
04/08/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D7/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040172752Collapsible hammock frameSeptember, 2004Vo et al.
20090025145PILLOWJanuary, 2009Tuffin et al.
20070017028Fitted ruffleJanuary, 2007Myers
20090172886MATERNITY PILLOWJuly, 2009Ross et al.
20100017963IN-BED MULTI-PURPOSE DESKJanuary, 2010Kannan
20070199150User-expandable changing padAugust, 2007Diamant et al.
20040031103Therapeutic mattress assemblyFebruary, 2004Wyatt et al.
20050188460Multiple person hammock shelter with retractable raincoverSeptember, 2005O'brien
20080263775Mattress for adjustable bedOctober, 2008Clenet
20080052835Clamp for railed surgical tablesMarch, 2008Malcolm
20080126132SMART BED SYSTEMMay, 2008Warner et al.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HANLEY, FLIGHT & ZIMMERMAN, LLC (20 N. WACKER DRIVE, SUITE 4220, CHICAGO, IL, 60606, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: a play yard; and an infant sleeping compartment mounted to the play yard for rocking movement.

2. An apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein the infant sleeping compartment is mounted to a top rail of the play yard.

3. An apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein the infant sleeping compartment has a rounded shape.

4. An apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein the rounded shape is an oval.

5. An apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein the infant sleeping compartment comprises a bassinet or a cradle.

6. An apparatus as defined in claim 1 wherein the infant sleeping compartment further comprises: a frame; first and second clips coupled to opposite top rails of the play yard; and first and second hubs rotatably coupling the frame to the first and second clips, respectively.

7. An apparatus as defined in claim 6 further comprising a motor to rotate the first and second hubs with respect to the first and second clips.

8. An apparatus as defined in claim 6 further comprising: a spindle projecting from the first hub; and an opening defined in the first clip to receive the spindle.

9. An apparatus as defined in claim 8 wherein the spindle further comprises: a shaft having a first end and a second end, the first end being coupled to the first hub; and a lug located on the second end, wherein the shaft is sized to pass through the opening, and at least a portion of the lug is sized to not pass through the opening.

10. An apparatus as defined in claim 9 wherein the opening comprises a first opening in communication with a second opening sized to permit removal of the lug from the clip.

11. An apparatus as defined in claim 10 wherein the second opening is located above the first opening.

12. An apparatus as defined in claim 6 further comprising a bracket on the first clip.

13. An apparatus as defined in claim 12 wherein the bracket further comprises a body defining a channel to receive a mounting clip associated with the first hub.

14. An apparatus as defined in claim 13 wherein the mounting clip includes a spring button to removably secure the mounting clip to the bracket.

15. An apparatus as defined in claim 13 wherein the bracket defines a cup to receive a projection associated with the mounting clip.

16. An apparatus as defined in claim 15 wherein the cup defines a slot to receive a flange on the projection to prevent rotation of the projection in the cup.

17. An apparatus as defined in claim 13 wherein the mounting clip is rotatably coupled to the first hub.

18. An apparatus as defined in claim 17 further comprising a shaft penetrating the mounting clip and the first hub to define an axis of rotation.

19. An apparatus as defined in claim 17 wherein the mounting clip includes a projection which engages the first hub.

20. An apparatus as defined in claim 19 further comprising a partition to limit rocking of the first hub relative to the mounting clip.

21. An apparatus as defined in claim 19 wherein the partition is located within the projection.

22. An apparatus as defined in claim 19 further comprising a lug associated with the first hub, the lug penetrating the projection.

23. An apparatus as defined in claim 17 further comprising a motor wherein the motor rotates the mounting clip with respect to the first hub.

24. An apparatus as defined in claim 6 wherein the first clip has a surface to secure a second sleeping compartment beneath the rocking infant sleeping compartment.

25. An apparatus as defined in claim 24 wherein the second sleeping compartment is fastened to the surface by a mechanical or chemical fastener.

26. An apparatus as defined in claim 24 wherein the second sleeping compartment is sewn to the surface.

27. An apparatus as defined in claim 6 wherein the first clip further includes a first bracket to receive a support rail.

28. An apparatus as defined in claim 27 wherein the second clip further includes a second bracket to receive the support rail.

29. An apparatus as defined in claim 28 wherein the support rail is not straight.

30. An apparatus as defined in claim 28 wherein the support rail supports an accessory adjacent the infant sleeping compartment.

31. An apparatus as defined in claim 30 wherein the accessory comprises at least one of a storage compartment, a changing table, or a non-rocking infant sleeping compartment.

32. An apparatus as defined in claim 30 further comprising a changing table mounted to the play yard adjacent the accessory.

33. An apparatus as defined in claim 32 wherein the changing table is non-rectangular.

34. An apparatus as defined in claim 32 wherein the changing table further comprises: third and fourth clips coupled to opposite top rails of the play yard; a second support rail coupled to the third and fourth clips; and a changing surface.

35. An apparatus as defined in claim 34 wherein the second support rail supports the accessory.

36. An apparatus as defined in claim 34 further comprising a first mounting clip coupling the second support rail to the third clip and a second mounting clip coupling the second support rail to the fourth clip.

37. An apparatus as defined in claim 34 further comprising a first bracket on the third clip to receive the first mounting clip and a second bracket on the fourth clip to receive the second mounting clip.

38. An apparatus as defined in claim 34 further comprising a fifth clip to couple a side of the changing table to the play yard.

39. An apparatus as defined in claim 1 further comprising a changing table mounted to the play yard adjacent the infant sleeping compartment.

40. An apparatus as defined in claim 39 wherein the changing table is non-rectangular.

41. An apparatus as defined in claim 39 wherein the changing table further comprises: first and second clips coupled to opposite top rails of the play yard; a support rail coupled to the first and second clips; and a changing surface.

42. An apparatus as defined in claim 41 further comprising a first mounting clip coupling the support rail to the first clip and a second mounting clip coupling the support rail to the second clip.

43. An apparatus as defined in claim 42 further comprising a first bracket on the first clip to receive the first mounting clip and a second bracket on the second clip to receive the second mounting clip.

44. An apparatus as defined in claim 43 wherein the first mounting clip includes a spring button to releasably secure the first mounting clip to the first bracket.

45. An apparatus as defined in claim 41 further comprising a third clip to couple a side of the changing table to the play yard.

46. An apparatus as defined in claim 39 further comprising at least one storage compartment located between the infant sleeping compartment and the changing table.

47. An apparatus as defined in claim 46 wherein the at least one storage compartment is located to fill at least one entrapment space between the infant sleeping compartment and the changing table.

48. An apparatus comprising: a play yard having top rails; a first sleeping area mounted to the top rails with a plurality of clips; and an infant sleeping compartment removably mounted to at least two of the clips.

49. An apparatus as defined in claim 48 wherein the infant sleeping compartment is mounted to the at least two clips for rocking movement.

50. An apparatus as defined in claim 48 wherein a motor is coupled to the clips to produce rocking movement.

51. An apparatus as defined in claim 48 wherein the first sleeping area comprises a full bassinet.

52. An apparatus as defined in claim 51 wherein the infant sleeping compartment is mounted above the full bassinet.

53. An apparatus for use with a play yard having top rails comprising: an infant sleeping compartment structured to be rotatably mounted to the play yard.

54. An apparatus as defined in claim 53 further comprising a motor to rotate the sleeping compartment.

55. An apparatus as defined in claim 53 further comprising: a changing table structured to be mounted to the play yard adjacent to the sleeping compartment.

56. An apparatus as defined in claim 55 further comprising at least one storage compartment located between the infant sleeping compartment and the changing table.

57. An apparatus as defined in claim 53 further comprising a full bassinet structured to be mounted to the play yard with the infant sleeping compartment mounted above the full bassinet.

58. A method of assembling a play yard comprising: erecting the play yard from a collapsed position to an erected position; mounting at least two clips to the play yard; and rotatably coupling an infant sleeping compartment to the at least two clips.

59. A method as defined in claim 58 wherein mounting the at least two clips to the play yard comprises mounting a full sleeping compartment in the play yard, and rotatably coupling the infant sleeping compartment to the at least two clips comprises mounting the infant sleeping compartment above the full sleeping compartment.

60. A method as defined in claim 59 further comprising mounting a changing table to the play yard.

61. A method as defined in claim 60 wherein the changing table is mounted adjacent to the infant sleeping compartment.

62. A method as defined in claim 59 further comprising removing the infant sleeping compartment from the play yard to expose the full sleeping compartment.

Description:

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

This disclosure relates generally to childcare products, and, more particularly, to rockable sleeping compartments attachable to play yards and methods of operating the same.

BACKGROUND

In recent years portable play yards have become very popular. Portable play yards typically include a frame, a flexible enclosure supported by the frame, and a removable floor board or mat. The frame is largely or completely contained within the flexible enclosure so that there are few, if any, loose parts when the frame is collapsed or when the frame is erected. When collapsed, the portable play yard typically has a compact form factor to enable easy transport and storage of the play yard. Sometimes, the floor board is wrapped around the collapsed frame to prevent the frame from inadvertently leaving the fully collapsed state during transport or storage. A play yard of this type is the play yard sold by Kolcraft Enterprises under the trademark Travelin' Tot®.

The floor of a portable play yard is typically located a few inches above the ground surface on which the play yard is erected. Therefore, in the weeks immediately following birth, it may not be comfortable for a new mother to bend to place an infant on the floor. Accordingly, bassinets and other accessories have been developed for use with portable play yards.

These bassinets and other accessories typically include a plurality of clips or hooks that are structured to releasably engage the top rails of the portable play yard such that the corresponding bassinet or other accessory is suspended within the play yard a distance above the floor of the play yard. In particular, the floor of the bassinet and/or other accessory is located at a height to facilitate easy access to the bassinet and/or other accessory by a standing adult. As a result, a child can be easily placed into such a bassinet or other accessory without requiring the adult to significantly bend or kneel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an example rockable sleeping compartment constructed in accordance with the teachings of the invention and shown mounted on an example play yard.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the rockable sleeping compartment and play yard of FIG. 1 with second and third accessories shown exploded from the play yard.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the rockable sleeping compartment and play yard of FIG. 1 with the second and third accessories of FIG. 2 mounted on the play yard.

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the top rail of the play yard of FIG. 1 and the accessories of FIGS. 1-3 shown with the soft goods of the accessories removed to reveal their frames.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of an example rockable connector.

FIG. 6a is a cross-sectional view of the example rockable connector of FIG. 5 shown secured on an example rail of an upper frame of an example play yard.

FIG. 6b is an enlarged exploded view of the example rocking mounting clip and example rocking hub of FIGS. 5 and 6a.

FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of a second example rockable connector.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the example rockable connector of FIG. 7 shown secured to an example rail of an upper frame of an example play yard.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of an example stationary connector.

FIG. 10 is cross-sectional view of the example stationary connector of FIG. 9 as an example accessory is being attached.

FIG. 11 is a view similar to FIG. 10, but showing the stationary connector after the accessory has been attached.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of an example full bassinet suspended on the top rail of an example play yard and an example rockable bassinet suspended above the full bassinet using the rockable connector of FIGS. 5-6b.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In this patent, the term “rockable connector” is used to refer to any connector used to releasably suspend an object from a play yard or crib, which allows for rotation, to some degree, of the suspended object relative to a portion of the play yard. Also, in this patent the term “stationary connector” is used to refer to any connector used to releasably suspend an object from a play yard or crib substantially without permitting movement of the object relative to a portion of the play yard or crib. A lock-out may be used with a rockable connector to preclude rocking of the accessory mounted to the play yard via the rockable connector. Further, in this patent, the term “primary clip” is used to refer to any connector used to releasably suspend an object from the upper edge of a play yard or crib. Also, in this patent the terms “mounting clip” and “accessory mounting clip” are used interchangeably to refer to any connector used to mount a stationary or rocking accessory to a primary clip.

An example rocking sleeping compartment 150 constructed in accordance with the teachings of the invention is shown in FIG. 1. In the example of FIG. 1, the rockable sleeping compartment 150 is suspended within the upper perimeter of an example portable play yard 100. The example play yard 100 has a collapsible frame that includes a plurality of top rails 102 and a plurality of lower rails 104 that are connected by vertical posts 106. In the illustrated example, the play yard 100 is a rounded play yard which is fully described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/063,811, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. However, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that, although the illustrated example play yard 100 is a rounded portable play yard, any other play yard or crib of any other shape or construction (e.g., square, triangular, rounded, portable, not-portable, collapsible, not-collapsible, etc.) could be used in place of the rounded play yard 100.

For the purpose of enabling rocking movement of the example sleeping compartment 150 relative to the play yard 100, opposite ends of the sleeping compartment 150 are rotatably connected to opposite top rails 102 of the play yard 100. The example rockable sleeping compartment 150 of FIG. 1 is sized to provide a sleeping space for a small child or infant. Thus, the rotatable connectors between the rockable sleeping compartment 150 and the play yard 100 enable rocking of the sleeping compartment to, for example, soothe a small child to sleep. As explained below, the rocking movement may be imparted manually (e.g., by a caregiver applying a force to a side of the sleeping compartment 150 or by movement of the occupant of the sleeping compartment 150), or automatically (e.g., by a wound spring or powered motor drive system).

In the illustrated example, the rockable sleeping compartment 150 is removable from the top rails 102 of the play yard 100. When the rockable bassinet 150 is removed, the play yard 100 can be used in a conventional manner to provide an enclosure for the child or infant.

In the example of FIG. 1, the infant sleeping compartment 150 is a bassinet or cradle. However, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that other types of sleeping compartments and/or non-sleeping accessories may be substituted for the rocking bassinet 150. Similarly, in the illustrated example, the infant sleeping compartment has a rounded shape. In particular, the shape of the illustrated rocking bassinet 150 is oval. However, persons of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the sleeping compartment 150 may have any desired shape (e.g., rounded, not rounded, oval, half-oval, circular, rectangular, square, or any combination of rounded and/or straight sides, etc.)

In the illustrated example, the infant sleeping compartment 150 does not fill the entire upper opening of the play yard 100. Therefore, it is possible to mount one or more additional accessories to the play yard 100 adjacent to the rocking bassinet 150. For example, as shown in FIGS. 2-3, a changing table 200 and/or a storage compartment 300 may be mounted to the play yard 100 adjacent to the infant sleeping compartment 150. Additionally or alternatively, a full bassinet 400 may be mounted to the play yard 100 and the rocking infant sleeping compartment 150 may be rotatably mounted above and/or within the full bassinet 400 as shown in FIG. 12. In the example of FIG. 12, the full bassinet 400 substantially fills the upper opening of the play yard 100 and is installed for use when the rocking bassinet 150 is removed from the play yard 100.

In order to provide the infant sleeping compartment 150 with structural integrity, the illustrated sleeping compartment 150 is provided with a frame. As shown in FIGS. 1-4, the illustrated frame includes two curved rails 152 defining the oval shape of the bassinet 150. The opposed ends of the curved rails 152 are coupled to respective rocking hubs 154 via mechanical fasteners as explained below in connection with FIGS. 5-6. Rivets 156 are inserted through the rocking hubs 154 and the cylindrical receiving members 158 of the rocking accessory mounting clips 160 to secure the rocking accessory mounting clips 160 and the rocking hubs 154 together. Thus, when the rocking accessory mounting clips 160 are secured in the brackets 162 of their respective primary clips 164 as shown, for example, in FIGS. 4-6, the rocking hubs 154, and, thus, the bassinet 150, are free to rock back and forth within a predetermined range of movement relative to the opposed primary clips 164. This rotatable connection is discussed in greater detail below.

The rails 152 of the rocking bassinet 150 are encased in sleeves defined in fabric, plastic or other soft goods material that forms the sidewalls 166, 168 and bottom 170 of the bassinet 150. A substantially rigid board and/or a foam cushion (which may, for example, be located on top of the board) may be encased within the soft goods material to create a comfortable bassinet floor 170. In addition, the rockable bassinet 150, of the illustrated example, includes a retractable canopy 172 that can cover the rockable bassinet 150, at least partially, and be used, for example, to shade the child or infant in the rockable bassinet 150. When the example bassinet 150 is removed from the top rails 102 of the play yard 100, the bassinet 150 is collapsible, which increases the ease with which the bassinet 150 and play yard 100 can be transported and stored.

FIGS. 5-6 illustrate an example connector that may be used to rockably secure an accessory, such as the example sleeping compartment 150 to a play yard 100 or crib. The example rockable connector is described in more detail in U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 20014/10062), which is hereby incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

The example rockable connection of FIGS. 5, 6a, and 6b includes a primary clip 164. The primary clip 164 has a hub 174 that is disposed over a top rail 102 of an example play yard 100. A bracket 162 is mounted on a face of the primary clip 164. The bracket 162 includes a u-shaped body that cooperates with the primary clip 164 to define an open-ended channel 176 sized to receive a mounting clip 160 associated with an accessory. In the illustrated example, the channel 176 is generally vertically oriented such that a mounting clip 160 may slide down through the open top of the channel 176 and extend out of the bottom of the channel 176. When a mounting clip 160 is positioned in the channel 176, the mounting clip 160 is captured between the bottom of the u-shaped body and the primary clip 164. The illustrated stationary accessory mounting clip 160 includes a substantially planar body 157 and a cylindrical receiving member 158. The planar body 157 includes a spring button 178 to removably secure the planar body to the bracket 162. The spring button 178 of the illustrated example is implemented by a resilient flange which is cantilevered at an angle from the planar body. The cylindrical receiving member 158 of the example of FIGS. 5, 6a and 6b is structured to receive an extension 184 from a rockable hub 154. When so positioned, the spring button 178 engages a bottom surface of the u-shaped body to prevent the mounting clip 160 from being inadvertently withdrawn from the bracket 162. To withdraw the mounting clip 160 from the bracket 162, a user must depress the spring button 178 until the spring button 178 becomes substantially co-planar with the planar body 157 and then move the mounting clip 160 upward and out of the channel 176. Because the spring button 178 assumes an angular orientation when the spring button 178 is in its rest position, the spring button 178 is automatically depressed by the u-shaped body when the mounting clip 160 is inserted into the bracket 162.

In order to receive the cylindrical receiving member 158 of the mounting clip 160, the bracket 162 of FIGS. 5, 6a, and 6b is provided with a cup 180. In the illustrated example, the cup 180 is defined by two rounded extensions. The extensions of the illustrated example are symmetrical with respect to each other and are separated by a small distance to define a slot (not shown). The cylindrical receiving member 158 of the mounting clip 160 includes a downwardly extending strut or flange 182 which is sized and positioned to enter the slot defined by the rounded extensions. The rounded extensions and the flange 182, thus, cooperate to ensure the cylinder of the cylindrical receiving member 158 does not rotate within the cup 180 and, thus, that the mounting clip 160 does not rotate within the bracket 162.

The rocking accessory mounting clip 160 is coupled to the rocking hub 154. In the example of FIGS. 5, 6a and 6b the rocking hub 154 includes a cylindrical projection 184 and a plurality of lugs 185 radiating from the cylindrical projection 184. The cylindrical projection 184 is received within a cylindrical chamber 159 defined in the cylindrical receiving member 158 (see FIG. 6b). There is a plurality of partitions 161 in the cylindrical chamber 159. The lugs 185 are received in apertures defined between the partitions 161 of the cylindrical receiving member 158. The partitions 161 and the lugs 185 cooperate to limit rotation of the rocking hub 154 relative to the cylindrical receiving member 158 and, thus, relative to the rocking accessory mounting clip 160 to a predetermined range or angle.

As shown in FIGS. 5, 6a and 6b, a rivet 156 is inserted through the rocking hub 154 and the cylindrical receiving member 158 of the rocking accessory mounting clip 160 to secure the rocking accessory mounting clip 160 and the rocking hub 154 together with the lugs 185 within their respective apertures in the cylindrical receiving member 158. Thus, when the rocking accessory mounting clip 160 is secured in a bracket 162, the rocking hub 154 is free to rock back and forth within the predetermined range of movement defined by the interaction of the lugs 185 and partitions 161, as stated above. The fastener 156 defines the axis of rotation. The fastener 156 may be a nail, screw, rivet or other mechanical fastener. The rocking hub 154 and the rocking bassinet 150 rotate about the axis, and, thus, the fastener 156, while the mounting clip 160 is secured in the bracket 162. The rocking hub 154 also serves as the connection point for the top frame rails 152 of the rocking bassinet 150. The frame rails 152 are coupled to the rocking hub 154 through fasteners 186 that are passed through bore holes 187 in the rocking hub 154, which is also detailed in U.S. application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 20014/10062).

Although the rocking accessory mounting clip 160 is shown mounted to a bracket 162 located on the hub 174 of the primary clip 164, persons of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that the rocking accessory mounting clip 160 could be used with a bracket 162 located at another position on the primary clip 164.

A second example rockable connection is shown in FIGS. 7-8. The example connection of FIGS. 7-8 includes a primary clip 350, which is disposed over a top rail 102 of an example play yard. The clip 350 has a hub 352 in which an opening 354 is formed. The opening 354 includes an upper opening 356 and a lower opening 358 that is located below the upper opening 356. The upper and lower openings 356, 358 are in communication via a u-shaped flange 360. Other than its hub 352, the primary clip 350 may be substantially identical to the primary clip 164 described above and in U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 20014/10062). Thus, it may include engagement members, joining members, side walls, etc., to grip the top rails 102 of the play yard 100.

In the example of FIGS. 7-8, the top rails 152 of the rockable bassinet 150 are connected in a rocking hub 362 through mechanical fasteners 364. The rocking hub 362 is similar to the rocking hub 154. However, the rocking hub 362 has a cylindrical spindle 366 projecting from it. The spindle 366 includes a cylindrical shaft 368. One end of the spindle 366 is a lug 370, which, in the illustrated example, is a flattened cylindrical piece that has a larger diameter than the shaft 368. The other end of the spindle 366 is connected to the rocking hub 362 by a fastener 372, which traverses the entire rocking hub 362 and is inserted into the shaft 368 of the spindle 366, as shown in FIG. 8. The fastener 372 defines the axis of rotation for the rocking bassinet 150 and can be a nail, screw, rivet or any other mechanical fastener.

To attach the rocking hub 362, and consequently, the rocking bassinet 150, to the clip 350, the lug 370 of the spindle 366 is inserted into the upper opening 356. The spindle 366 and rocking hub 362 are moved downward so that the shaft 368 of the spindle 366 passes through the flange 360 and is rotatably mounted in the lower opening 358. To prevent the lug 370 from traversing the lower opening 358 and to secure the spindle 366 and rocking hub 362 to the clip 350, the diameter of the lug 370 is larger than the diameter of lower opening 358. The rounded surface at the circumference of the shaft 368 of the spindle 366 supports the rocking bassinet 150 on the flange 360 at the bottom of the lower opening 358. The rounded shape of the lower opening 358 and the shaft 368 of the spindle 366 enable the rocking bassinet 150 to rotate.

To remove the spindle 366 and rocking hub 362 from the clip 350, the spindle 366 and rocking hub 362 are lifted upward and passed through the upper opening 356. The diameter of the lug 370 is smaller than the diameter of the upper opening 356, which allows the lug 370 to pass through the upper opening 356. As a result, the entire spindle 366 and rocking hub 362 combination can be easily removed from the clip 350.

To limit the range of rotation of the rocking hub 362 relative to the clip 350, the example rockable connection of FIGS. 7-8 is also provided with a motion limiter 374. The motion limiter 374 of the illustrated example is a projection extending from the face of the clip 350 below the lower opening 358. The motion limiter 374 extends into a recess formed in the rocking hub 362. The sides of the recess engage the motion limiter 374 at either end of the range of rotation of the rockable sleeping compartment 150, thus limiting the rotation of the rockable sleeping compartment 150 to a predetermined range or angle.

As mentioned above, the rockable sleeping compartment 150 may be structured for manual and/or automatic rocking. If automatic rocking is desired, one or more of the rockable connectors described above may be coupled to the drive shaft of a motor (perhaps through a suitable gear reduction mechanism) to enable automatic rocking of the sleeping compartment. The motor may be battery powered or spring loaded. An example motor, which may be used in this role, is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,500,072, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

As mentioned above in the example of FIGS. 2-4, a second accessory, namely, a changing table 200, is secured to the play yard 100 adjacent to the infant sleeping area 150 via a plurality of primary clips 202, 204. The changing table 200 provides a space to change the child or infant's clothing or diapers. The primary clips 202 are secured to opposite ones of the top rails 102. The illustrated changing table 200 is coupled to the primary clips 202 via a support rail 206 and bracket 208 (see FIG. 4). The interaction of the primary clip 202 and the top rail 102 and the connection of the support rail 206 and the bracket 208 are described in further detail below with reference to FIGS. 9-11.

In the illustrated example, the primary clips 204 are sewn to the changing table 200. However, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the primary clips 204 can be glued, fused or otherwise fastened to the changing table 200 with any known mechanical or chemical fasteners. Though the illustrated example employs four primary clips 202, 204 to support the changing table 200, a person of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that any number of primary clips may be used to support these accessories.

The side of the illustrated changing table 200 opposite the support rail 206 is supported on the top rail 102 of a short side of the play yard 100 by primary clips 204. In the illustrated example, the primary clips 204 engaging the short side of the play yard 100 include only one hook and no mounting bracket. In this example, two separate primary clips 204 are employed to secure the illustrated changing table 200 to the short side of the play yard 100. However, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the two primary clips 204 could alternatively be formed as a single clip such as the primary clip 202 shown in FIG. 9 (with or without the bracket 222). Regardless of whether one primary clip, two primary clips, or more than two primary clips are used to couple the changing table 200 to the short side of the play yard 100, the soft goods of the changing table 200 are preferably mechanically or chemically fastened to the wall(s) of those primary clip(s).

FIGS. 9-11 illustrate an example stationary connector that is used to secure a non-rockable accessory, e.g., the changing table 200, to an example play yard 100 or a crib. A similar stationary connector is discussed in more detail in related application U.S. application No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 20014/10062). The stationary connector includes a clip 202 that has a hook 214 to engage a top rail 102 of a play yard or crib. A wall 216 depends from the hook 214. The hook 214 has a lip 218 that may be gripped by a user to facilitate the mounting or dismounting of the primary clip 202 to/from the top rail 102 of the play yard 100 or crib. Specifically, the lip 218 is pulled away from the top rail 102 to increase the distance between the lip 218 of the hook 214 and the wall 216 such that the primary clip 202 can be mounted or dismounted to/from the top rail 102.

The wall 216 provides a surface for securing an accessory (e.g., a bassinet, a changing table, a cradle, a storage compartment, etc) to the primary clip 202. The accessory can be attached to the surface of the wall 216 by any known mechanical or chemical fasteners. For example, the accessory may include soft goods (i.e., a fabric or plastic material such as an enclosure, a side wall, etc.) that is sewn or glued to the wall 216.

In the illustrated example, the primary clip 202 includes a second hook 220. The second hook 220 of the illustrated example is largely identical to the first hook 214 described above. However, in the illustrated example, the second hook 220 is located a distance away from the first hook 214. In the illustrated example, the first hook 214 and the second hook 220 are joined by the wall 216. More specifically, in the primary clip 202 of FIG. 9, the first hook 214, the second hook 220 and the wall 216 are integrally formed.

Although the illustrated primary clip 202 includes two hooks 214, 220 separated by a distance, persons of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that other numbers of hooks would likewise be appropriate. For example, the primary clip 202 could alternatively be shortened to include only one of the hooks 214, 220, the hooks 214, 220 could be joined into one continuous hook, or three or more hooks could alternatively be employed.

As mentioned above, an accessory (e.g., a bassinet, a changing table, a cradle, a storage compartment, etc.) may be chemically or mechanically fastened to the wall 216 of the primary clip 202. When included, such an accessory will typically be non-removably coupled along the lower portion of the side wall. For example, the plastic or fabric side wall of a bassinet to be suspended by the primary clip 202 from the top rail 102 of a play yard or crib may be sewn or glued to the wall 216. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the accessories may be removably or non-removably coupled to any portion (i.e., the top, middle, or bottom) of the inner or outer walls of the primary clip 202, to any portion of the hooks of the primary clip 202, or to any other portion of the primary clip 202, depending upon the structure and need of the accessory.

In order to permit one or more accessories to be removably mounted to the primary clip 202, the primary clip 202 of the illustrated example is further provided with one or more brackets 222. The accessor(ies) coupled to the bracket(s) 222 may be used in place of, or in addition to, an accessory permanently affixed to the lower portion of the wall 216. Although the illustrated primary clip 202 includes only one bracket 222, persons or ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that two or more brackets 222 may alternatively be included.

In the interest of brevity, the description of the structure of the bracket 222 and corresponding mounting clip 224 of the stationary connection are substantially similar to the structure of the bracket 162 and the mounting clip 160 of the rockable connection of FIGS. 5-6 and will not be repeated here. Instead, the interested reader is referred to the above-description of the bracket 162 and the mounting clip 160 of the example rockable connection of FIGS. 5-6 for a more detailed discussion of those structures. A notable difference is that the cylindrical receiving member 226 of the stationary mounting clip 224 is substantially hollow for non-rotatably receiving a rod or rail 206 of an accessory, while the cylindrical receiving member 158 of the mounting clip 160 contains partitions 161, which, as described above allow for limited rotation of the rockable hub 154.

In the illustrated example, the soft goods material of the changing table 200 is a flexible fabric, plastic or other material. Like the soft goods used for the infant sleeping compartment 150, the soft goods of the changing table 200 are preferably stain-resistant and washable or otherwise cleanable. To provide a firm and comfortable surface, the floor 210 of the changing table 200 may comprise a rigid board with a foam cushion that is encased in the soft goods covering. In the example of FIGS. 2-4, the side walls 212 of the changing table 200 angle upward from the floor 210 at a gentle angle to provide some depth to the changing table 200 while enabling easy access to an infant or small child lying on the changing table 200. The side walls 212 of the changing table 200 are preferably integrally formed with the floor 210.

As discussed above, the side of the changing table 200 adjacent the center of the play yard 100 is supported by the support rail 206. The support rail 206 of the illustrated example is enclosed in a sleeve of the fabric or plastic covering of the changing table 200. When the changing table 200 is removed from the top rail 102 of the play yard 100, the changing table 200 is collapsible and foldable, which increases the ease with which the changing table 200 and play yard 100 can be transported and stored. The changing table 200 and the clips 202, 204 that connect the changing table 200 to the top rails 102 are discussed in greater detail in U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 20014/10062), which has been incorporated in full by reference.

As mentioned above, FIGS. 2-4 also illustrate that a third accessory, namely, storage compartments 300, are positioned on the top rails 102 of the play yard 100 via primary clips 164, 202. The storage compartments 300 of the illustrated example are open top structures generally filling the rounded triangular spaces defined between the straight side of the changing table 200 and the curved side of the rocking bassinet 150. Thus, the storage compartments 300 serve to fill spaces that could otherwise serve as entrapment points. The pockets 300 can be used to store any item(s). For example, the compartments 300 may be used to store ointments, baby wipes, diapers, etc. Although the storage compartments 300 of the illustrated example are open top structures, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the compartments 300 could be provided with covers (e.g., zippered flaps) if desired.

In the example of FIGS. 2-4 the storage compartments 300 are defined by soft goods mounted on the support rail 206 and a curved rail 302. The rail 302 is located adjacent the infant sleeping compartment 150 and is curved to reflect the curved shape of the bassinet 150. To attach the storage compartment 300 to the primary clip 164, the primary clip 164 is provided with a second bracket 304. The second bracket 304 is similar to the first bracket 162 in that the second bracket 304 has a body defining channel (not shown), a cup 306 and a slot (not shown). The body defining channel is configured to receive a mounting clip 308. The mounting clip 308 has a snap or spring button 310 that secures the mounting clip 308 into the bracket 304 in the same manner as the spring button 178 secures the mounting clip 160 to the primary clip 164, described above. The mounting clip 308 also has a coupling 312, which receives an end of the curved rail 302 that supports the storage compartment 300 (FIGS. 2, 4). The coupling 312 also has a flange similar to the flange 182 of FIGS. 5, 6a and 6b. The flange sits in the slot of the cup 306 to secure the coupling 312 and prevent side-by-side movement of the mounting clip 308, coupling 312 and the curved rail 302 relative to the primary clip 164.

The other rail is the straight rail 206, which is described above. Persons of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that rails 206, 302 of other shapes and/or sizes could alternatively be employed. For example, in some examples, the rail 302 is split into two tubes which are secured to the straight rail 206 via clips. In the illustrated example, the rails 206, 302 are received in sleeves of the soft goods defining the storage compartments 300. The soft goods for the storage compartments may be constructed of, for example, fabric, or plastic. When the storage compartments 300 are removed from the top rail 102 of the play yard 100, they are collapsible and foldable, which increases the ease with which the storage compartments 300 and play yard 100 can be transported and stored.

In the example illustrated in FIGS. 2-4, a first accessory 150 is implemented as a rocking bassinet 150, a second accessory 200 is implemented as a changing table 200, and a third accessory 300 is implemented as storage compartments 300. However, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the accessories 150, 200, 300 could be implemented by other types of structures (e.g., a cradle, a reduced size, stationary bassinet, etc.) and/or a different number of accessories may be employed (e.g., 1, 2, 4, etc.).

For instance, in the example of FIG. 12, the play yard 100 has a first accessory 400, which is a full bassinet, larger than the rockable bassinet 150 of the prior examples. In the example of FIG. 12, the full bassinet 400 is supported around the perimeter of the play yard 100 by a plurality of primary clips 164, 202, and covers substantially the entire opening of the play yard 100. The example full bassinet 400 of FIG. 12 is comprised of sidewalls 402 and a floor 404. The sidewalls 402 may be constructed from a shear, mesh or solid fabric or flexible plastic. The floor 404 of the illustrated full bassinet 400 includes one or more foam pads secured to one or more boards. The pad(s) and/or board(s) are encased in one or more fabric or plastic sleeves. The illustrated full bassinet 400 of FIG. 12 is not rockable. Therefore, it is not connected to the primary clips 164, 202 with the rotatable connections illustrated in prior examples. Instead the full bassinet 400 is fastened to the primary clips 164, 202 with any other known mechanical or chemical fasteners. For example, the primary clips 164, 202 may be sewn, glued or fused directly to the side walls 402 of the full bassinet 400. Additionally, the full bassinet 400 may be coupled to the top rails 102 through any combination of the example clips disclosed herein and/or in U.S. application Ser. No. ______ (Attorney Docket No. 20014/10062).

Because the full bassinet 400 of the illustrated example is coupled to the lower portion of the primary clips 164, 202 (e.g., by sewing), one or more other accessories may also be coupled to the top rails 102 by the same primary clips 164, 202. For example, rockable sleeping compartment, changing tables, and/or storage compartments, may be connected to the primary clips 164, 202 in manners the same as or analogous to those described above.

Further, although only a rocking bassinet 150 and a full bassinet 400 are illustrated in FIG. 12, persons or ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate that there are many other accessories that could be secured to the top rails 102 of the play yard 100, including, e.g., storage compartments, cradles (stationary or rocking), and/or other items that would facilitate baby care-taking functions. Any of these accessories could be supported on the top rails 102 of the play yard 100 adjacent to, or in place of, the rocking bassinet 150, even while the full bassinet 400 is also supported on the top rails 102.

The connections described herein are not limited for use with the rockable sleeping compartments or other accessories described herein. For instance, the rockable connectors may be used with swings. In addition the rockable connectors and stationary connectors are not limited for use with play yards. The rockable connectors and stationary connectors may be used to secure accessories to cribs, cradles, or other structures on which accessories would be used. In addition, although the rockable connectors and stationary connectors described above have been shown and described as attached to the top rails of a play yard, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that they may alternatively be connected to other structures. For example, the rockable connectors and/or the stationary connectors may be connected to the corner posts of a play yard either in addition to or in lieu of the top rails of the play yard. Thus, the rockable sleeping compartments disclosed herein may be rockably mounted to any portion of a play yard or crib.

Although certain methods, apparatus and articles of manufacture have been described herein, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all methods, apparatus and articles of manufacture fairly falling within the scope of the claims either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.