Title:
Child's head support
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The child's head support is adapted to support the head of the child seated in a car seat. The head support has a head and body taking the form of a plush animal. The top of the head provides a resting surface for the chin of a toddler, alleviating strain on the toddler's neck when the toddler leans forward to sleep or rest. The ears of the head support contain a flexible frame allowing the ears to be shaped to cradle the toddler's head. The cradling ears limit side-to-side motion of the toddler's head. A pair of legs attached to the head support is adapted to lie beneath/above the legs of the toddler, providing support for the head support. The legs contain a flexible frame, allowing the legs to be shaped to fit beneath the child's legs. An internal, adjustable length central frame provides support for the overall device.



Inventors:
Stoeckel, Tara J. (Park Falls, WI, US)
Stoeckel, Brent A. (Park Falls, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/708569
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
02/21/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C1/10
View Patent Images:
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20050104428Sacral support member for seatingMay, 2005Walker et al.
20040239166Booster cushionDecember, 2004Kihlberg et al.



Primary Examiner:
MCPARTLIN, SARAH BURNHAM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LITMAN LAW OFFICES, LTD. (P.O. BOX 15035, CRYSTAL CITY STATION, ARLINGTON, VA, 22215, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A child's head support, comprising: a character head having a concave upper surface adapted for supporting the chin of a toddler; a pair of ears, the ears being attached to either side of the character head; a flexible ear frame disposed within the ears for shaping the ears to support sides of the toddler's head; a body attached to the bottom of the character head; a pair of character legs attached to the either side of the body; a flexible leg frame contained within the character legs for shaping the character legs to fit beneath the toddler's legs; and a central frame contained within the body, the central frame being connected between the leg frame and the ear frame, the central frame being adjustable in length for adjusting overall height of the child's head support.

2. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the head and body of the child's head support are made of a soft material having a texture presenting a comfortable resting surface for the child.

3. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the head and the body of the child's head support are filled with a soft cushioning material.

4. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the ears are made of a material providing a comfortable texture for contact with the head of the child.

5. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the ears are filled with a soft cushioning material.

6. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the head comprises attractive facial features, including eyes, a nose and a mouth arranged to present an expressive mood.

7. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the legs are made of a material having a texture providing a comfortable surface for the child.

8. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the legs are filled with a soft cushioning material.

9. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the central frame is bendable.

10. The child's head support according to claim 1, wherein the central frame has telescoping sections.

11. The child's head support according to claim 10, wherein the telescoping sections have a manually-operated detent mechanism capable of being manipulated from the outside of the head support for adjustably latching the frame into a fixed height.

12. The child's head support according to claim 1, further comprising fasteners to the body for securing the child's head support to a car seat.

13. The child's head support according to claim 12, wherein the fasteners comprise a plurality of hook and loop fasteners.

14. The child's head support according to claim 1, further comprising: an upper pair of fasteners disposed on the ears; a lower pair of fasteners disposed on the legs; a central fastener disposed on the body; and a mating plurality of fasteners adapted for attachment to corresponding points on a car seat for securing the child's head support to the car seat.

15. A child's head support, comprising: a combined body and head having a concave upper surface adapted for supporting a chin of a toddler; a pair of ears, the ears being attached to either side of an upper portion of the combined body and head; and a pair of legs attached to a lower portion of the combined body and head.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/785,346, filed Mar. 24, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of head supports, and more particularly to a child's head support adapted to fit in a car seat or a stroller to comfortably support the head of a child against unwanted motion.

2. Description of the Related Art

Car seats are a commonly used safety device for transporting small children during travel in a car or other motor vehicle. It is generally recommended that children below the age of eight use some form of car seat or booster seat.

Car seats provide safety in the event of a sudden stop or head on collision through the use of restraining straps the prevent the body of the child from pitching forward. The rear of the car seat is generally padded providing a comfortable place for resting the child's head. Typically, forward motion of the head of the child is only restrained by the car seat.

The lack of frontal support for the head of the child may result in an uncomfortable traveling experience for small children such as toddlers and infants seated in a car seat. In particular a child may slump forward while sleeping or resting in the car seat. The slumped forward position may result in stress on the neck of the child resulting in pain and discomfort if the child remains in the slumped position over a period of time. The discomfort may indirectly result in a safety issue if a parent reacts to the child's distress by removing the child from the safety of the car seat. Alternatively, a parent may elect to make more frequent stops to allow the child a period of time out of the car seat. The need to make frequent stops can extend the time required to make long trips making traveling less efficient and less pleasurable.

The lack of frontal support may result more directly in a safety concern. When the child's head is slumped forward, the car seat provides limited protection against side-to-side motion of the child's head generated during a collision or during turning maneuvers. Very small children whose neck muscles are incompletely developed may be particularly prone to injury from unwanted side-to-side motions, as well as from front to back motions that may be generated during a collision or while stopping or accelerating the vehicle.

A comfortable head support device adapted for the use in a car seat can provide support for a child's head while the child is resting and could limit the motion of the child head and neck during accidents or maneuvering of a vehicle providing enhanced comfort and safety for a traveling child.

Thus, a child's head support solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The child's head support is adapted to support the head of the child seated in a car seat. The head support comprises a head and body taking the form of a plush animal. The top of the animal head provides a resting surface for the chin of a toddler, alleviating strain on the toddler's neck when the toddler leans forward to sleep or rest. The ears of the head support contain a flexible frame, allowing the ears to be shaped to cradle the toddler's head. The cradling ears limit side-to-side motion of the toddler's head. A pair of legs attached to the head support is adapted to be positioned under/over the legs of the toddler, providing support for the head support. The legs contain a flexible frame allowing the legs to be shaped to fit beneath the child's legs. An internal, adjustable length center frame provides support for the overall device.

In one embodiment of the invention, the center frame comprises one or more metal panels, the lengths of which may be collapsed by folding the panels to reduce the effective length of the central frame.

In another embodiment, the center frame comprises a collapsible telescoping member that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the overall height of the chin rest above the child's lap.

In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the head and body portion are combined to provide a more compact device to accommodate the smaller body size of infants or smaller toddlers.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front, perspective view of an embodiment of a child's head support according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the child's head support according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a rear view of the child's head support according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the child's head support according to the present invention adapted for small toddlers.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is a child's head support adapted to support the head of a child or toddler in a car seat. Reference is made first to FIG. 1, from which an appreciation of the use of an embodiment of the invention may be understood. A child C is seated in a car seat S to which a child's head support 20 according to a first embodiment of the present invention is attached. The child's head support 20 includes a head 26 and body 28 that present the form of an animal character. The animal character is generally designed to have a form that is attractive to small children. The attractiveness of the animal character may help overcome the resistance or antipathy of small children associated with car travel or confinement to a car seat. The head 26 and body 28 of the child's head support are preferably made of a soft material, the texture feel of which presents a comfortable resting surface for the child. Preferably, the interior of the head 26 and body 28 of the child's head support 20 are filled with a soft cushioning material, such as polyester fiber, foamed rubber or cotton stuffing of the type used for plush toys.

The upper surface of the head 26 is shaped to form a rest for the chin of the child C. Preferably, the contour of at least a part of the top surface of the head 26 is concave, forming a stable resting place for the chin of the child C.

Further support for the head of the child C is provided by a pair of ears 22 that are attached to either side of the head 26 of the child's head support 20. The ears 22 are made of a material providing a comfortable texture for contact with the head of the child. The ears 22 are filled with a soft cushioning material. In use, the ears are placed on either side of the child's head and, together with the chin rest surface formed by the top of the head 26 of the child's head support 20, support the child's head, with the ears 22 limiting side-to-side motions of the child's head.

Preferably the head 26 of the child's head support 20 is adorned with facial features that make the head support 20 more attractive to children. The features may include eyes 30 and a mouth 32 arranged to present a smiling face or to depict some other interesting or expressive mood. Additional facial features such as a nose may be provided. Preferably, the facial features are embroidered, sewn, painted, or otherwise inscribed onto the child's head support 20 so that they do not present a choking hazard to small children.

The child's head support 20 is supported by legs 24 attached to the bottom of the device body 28. The legs 24 support the legs of a child C as the child sits in the child safety seat S. The legs 24 are made of a material having a texture that provides a comfortable surface for the child. In a preferred embodiment, the legs 24 are filled with a soft cushioning material.

As may be appreciated by referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the child's head support 20 includes an internal frame. The frame comprises an upper frame component 42, a lower frame component 44, and center frame component 46 attached to the upper frame 42 and lower frame 44 components.

The upper frame component 42 provides rigidity to the ears 22 of the child's head support 20 while allowing the ears 22 to bend. The upper frame component 42 comprises a frame of a malleable material, such as metal, located within the head of the child's head support 20 and extending into each of the ears 22 of the child's head support 20. The material of the upper frame 42 is sufficiently strong and rigid to provide support for the head of a child resting against the child's head support 20, but malleable enough to allow the ears 22 to be formed to fit the shape of the child's head as closely as necessary to restrict side-to-side movements of a child's head generated by motion of a vehicle.

The lower frame component 44 provides a support base for the child's head support 20 while allowing the legs 24 of the child's head support 20 to be positioned to rest comfortably beneath the legs of a child C seated in a car seat S. The lower frame component comprises a frame of a malleable material, such as metal, located within the lower portion of the body of the child's head support 20 and extending into each of the legs 24 of the child's head support 20. The material of the lower frame 44 is sufficiently strong and rigid to provide support for the overall device, supporting the head of a child resting against the child's head support 20, but malleable enough to allow the legs 24 of the child's head support 20 to be positioned into a comfortable position beneath the child's legs.

The center frame component 46 functions to maintain the overall height of the child's head support 20 by maintaining the separation between the lower frame component 44, and the upper frame component 42. The center frame component 46 is contained within the interior of the body 28 of the child's head support 20. The height of the center frame component 46 is adjustable, allowing the overall height of the child's head support 20 to be collapsed or extended to accommodate the size of a child. In the illustrated embodiment, the center frame component 46 comprises a metal frame bendable under a compressive force applied between the top of the head 26 and the lower portion of the body 28 of the child's head support 20. When the metal frame is bent within the body 28 of the child's head support, the overall height of the child's head support is reduced. The overall height of the device 20 can be expanded by pulling the head 26 and body 28 of the child's head support 20 apart to expand the center frame 46.

Alternatively, the center frame 46 may comprise a telescoping mechanism made of nested cylindrical sections that can be collapsed or expanded to adjust the overall height of the child's head support 20. The telescoping sections may be provided with a manually operated detent mechanism for latching the center frame 46 into a fixed height. The detent mechanism may be manipulated from the outside of the head support 20 to unlatch the telescoping sections to alter the overall length of the center frame 46.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 3, a securing means for attaching the child's head support 20 to a car seat may be understood. The securing means comprises fastening devices attached to the rear of the child's head support 20. In the illustrated embodiment, the fastening devices are a plurality of hook and loop fasteners. A pair of upper fasteners 50 is attached to the ears 22 of the head support 20. A lower pair of fasteners 54 is attached to the legs 24 of the head support 20, and a center fastener 52 is provided on the rear of the head support body 28. A mating fastener system is attached to a corresponding point on the car seat S. Other types of releasable attachment means may be provided, such as straps with mating buckles or other fasteners.

A reduced size embodiment of a child's head support 70 in accordance with the current invention may be appreciated by referring to FIG. 4. The reduced size child's head support 70 comprises a combined body and head 26, which, in combination, provide the functionality provided by the separate body and head of the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. The top surface of the body-head 72 provides a chin rest for a child in a car seat. A pair of ears 22 attached to the upper portion of the body-head 72 limits unwanted side-to-side motion of the child's head. A pair of legs attached to the lower portion of the body-head 72 provides a resting point for the reduced size child's head support 70.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.