Title:
Slip resistant stationary baby walker
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stationary baby walker including a slip resistant mat upon which a baby may practice walking.



Inventors:
Spencer-kramer, Angela (Shererville, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/897064
Publication Date:
03/05/2009
Filing Date:
08/29/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D13/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROLAND, DANIEL F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS (300 NORTH MERIDIAN STREET SUITE 2500, INDIANAPOLIS, IN, 46204, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stationary baby walker including: (a) a frame; (b) a baby seat; and (c) a slip resistant mat connected to the frame.

2. The stationary baby walker of claim 1, wherein the frame includes an upper structure with an open interior space.

3. The stationary baby walker of claim 2, wherein the upper structure with an open interior space includes: (a) a pair of parallel side bars; and (b) a pair of parallel end bars which are shorter than the parallel side bars.

4. The stationary baby walker of claim 3, wherein the parallel end bars are affixed perpendicular to the parallel side bars.

5. The stationary baby walker of claim 3, wherein the parallel end bars are affixed in a common horizontal plane with the parallel side bars.

6. The stationary baby walker of claim 3, wherein a rail system is affixed to the parallel side bars.

7. The stationary baby walker of claim 6, wherein the rail system includes a channel, having a first substantially horizontal wall, extending away from the parallel side bars and towards the open interior space, and a ridge extending substantially perpendicular to the first wall.

8. The stationary baby walker of claim 6, wherein the rail system includes a groove configured to accommodate a ball bearing.

9. The stationary baby walker of claim 3, wherein the rail system includes a cavity inside the parallel side bars with a slot running the length of each parallel side bar located on the underside of the parallel side bars allowing at least one wheel to operate inside each parallel side bar, the at least one wheel being rotably mounted to a connecting member which extends out through the slot in the bottom of the parallel side bar and is connected to the baby seat.

10. The stationary baby walker of claim 1, wherein the frame includes a plurality of supports.

11. The stationary baby walker of claim 10, wherein the plurality of supports are substantially vertically oriented and connected to the frame.

12. The stationary baby walker of claim 11, wherein the plurality of supports are removably connected to the frame.

13. The stationary baby walker of claim 1, wherein the baby seat includes: (a) a planar support plate; (b) an aperture in the planar support plate; (c) means for seating a child within the aperture; and (d) means for mounting the baby seat to the frame.

14. The stationary baby walker of claim 13, wherein the planar support plate includes an outwardly projecting wall with an inverted ridge, forming an interactive member which is configured to interact with a channel affixed to the parallel side bars of the upper structure of the frame.

15. The stationary baby walker of claim 13, wherein the planar support plate includes an inverted groove configured to accommodate a ball bearing operating in a corresponding groove of the rail system affixed to the parallel side bars of the upper structure of the frame.

16. The stationary baby walker of claim 13, wherein the baby seat is configured to rotate 360° about an axis extending through the aperture while mounted to the frame.

17. The stationary baby walker of claim 1, wherein the slip resistant mat is connected to the frame and in a horizontal plane adjacent to the floor.

18. The stationary baby walker of claim 1, wherein the slip resistant mat encompasses substantially the entire area defined by the vertical projection of an edge of the frame.

19. A stationary baby walker including: (a) a frame; (b) a baby seat; and (c) a plurality of toys interchangeably mounted to a plurality of toy holders located on the frame.

20. The stationary baby walker of claim 19, wherein each of the plurality of toys is configured to be removably mounted to one of the plurality of toys holders.

21. The stationary baby walker of claim 20, wherein each of the plurality of toys is mounted to one of the plurality of toy holders via a magnet located on the underside of the toy and a magnet of the opposite polarity located on the bottom of the toy holder.

22. The stationary baby walker of claim 20, wherein each of the plurality of toys is mounted to one of the plurality of toy holders via a clip with one or more protrusions located on the bottom of the toy which correspond to one or more recesses in the cavity of the toy holder.

23. A stationary baby walker including: (a) a frame including: (1) an upper structure with an open interior space including: (i) a pair of parallel side bars wherein a rail system is affixed to the inner side of the parallel side bars comprising a channel, having a first substantially horizontal wall, extending away from the parallel side bars and towards the open interior space, and a ridge extending substantially perpendicular to the first wall; and (ii) a pair of parallel end bars which are shorter than the parallel side bars, affixed perpendicular to the parallel side bars, and affixed in a common horizontal plane with the parallel side bars; and (2) a plurality of supports which are substantially vertically oriented and connected to the frame. (b) a baby seat which is mounted to a rail system on the frame including: (1) a planar support plate including an outwardly projecting wall with an inverted ridge, forming an interactive member which is configured to interact with the channel affixed to the parallel side bars of the upper structure of the frame. (2) an aperture in the planar support plate; (3) means for seating the child within the aperture such that the child may freely rotate 360°; and (4) means for mounting the baby seat to the frame; (c) a slip resistant mat connected to the frame in a horizontal plane adjacent to the floor by connections to at least one of the plurality of supports of the frame and which encompasses substantially the entire area defined by the vertical projections of the inner edges of the upper structure; and (d) a plurality of toys with means for removably mounting the plurality of toys to a plurality of toy holders and which are interchangeably mounted to a plurality of toy holders located on the frame.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to baby walkers, and more particularly to a stationary baby walker with a slip resistant mat allowing a child to safely practice walking.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Baby walkers are used to allow children to safely practice walking. Such walkers may be comprised of a mobile structure. A child may freely move about via this structure while practicing walking. Known prior art of this design is typified by U.S. Pat. No. 4,773,639 (filed May 13, 1987).

A disadvantage of baby walkers comprised of a mobile structure is the uncertainty of where the child may take the structure. There is a substantial risk that the child may roam off in the walker. Worse still is the possibility that a child may maneuver over an edge, namely the edge of a set of stairs, and get injured. If a child maneuvers over an edge of a set of stairs, the child may either fall out of the walker or the child may fall while remaining in the walker.

An estimated 8800 children under the age of 15 months were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 1999 for injuries associated with the use of mobile infant walkers. Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, Injuries Associated with Infant Walkers, Pediatrics, Vol. 108, No. 3, September 2001, at 790. In fact, between 1973 and 1998, thirty four deaths associated with the use of mobile infant walkers were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Stairs were implicated in as many as 96% of cases of infant falls, either falls from the mobile walker or falls with the infant remaining in the mobile walker. Stairs were also implicated in almost every case resulting in severe injuries.

To avoid these problems, baby walkers may alternatively be comprised of a fixed stationary frame with a mobile inner component. Walkers of this variety allow a child to practice walking by moving about in a finite space while supported on a mobile seat. Known prior art of this design is typified by U.S. Pat. No. 6,001,047 (filed Mar. 5, 1998).

A disadvantage of baby walkers comprised of a fixed stationary frame with a mobile inner component is the requirement that such a device be placed on a surface which provides the child traction (e.g., carpet). If the unit is placed on a low friction surface (e.g., linoleum), the child will be unable to practice walking due to lack of traction.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a stationary walker including a frame, a movable inner seat, and a slip resistant mat on which a child may walk. The stationary walker may be placed on any surface, including slippery surfaces (e.g., linoleum), and still the child may practice walking. The slip resistant mat will also help keep the child's feet clean even if the stationary walker is placed, for instance, outside on grass or dirt.

In one embodiment of the invention, a stationary baby walker having a horizontally oriented rectangular upper frame including a rail system is provided. At a horizontal plane below the level of the horizontally oriented rectangular upper extent, but above the level of the floor, a slip resistant mat is located. This slip resistant mat encompasses substantially the entire surface area below the vertical projections of the inner or outer edges of the horizontally oriented rectangular upper extent. The slip resistant mat may also encompass some other area. The mat is designed to provide traction for the child. A child may thus utilize the stationary walker and practice walking independent of the surface upon which the walker is placed.

A plurality of interchangeable toys may be provided to encourage the child to walk back and forth in the stationary walker. These toys may include teethers which massage the gums, toys with mirrors, and even simple electronic devices which light up or make noise. These interchangeable toys may be removably affixed to the frame.

The above mentioned and other features of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of embodiments of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a baby walker with a slip resistant mat according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the frame of the baby walker with a slip resistant mat according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the seat assembly according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the rail and side bar connection.

FIG. 5 is an exploded cross-sectional view of the rail and seat assembly, according to one embodiment of the present invention, taken along line 1-1 shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the rail and seat assembly, according to another embodiment of the present invention, taken along line 1-1 shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the rail and seat assembly, according to yet another embodiment of the present invention, taken along line 1-1 shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 8 is a block diagram of the interchangeable toy and toy holder connection.

FIG. 9 is an exploded cross-sectional view of a toy holder and an interchangeable toy, according to one embodiment of the present invention, taken along line 1-1 shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 10 is an exploded cross-sectional view of a toy holder and an interchangeable toy, according to another embodiment of the present invention, taken along line 1-1 shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the seat assembly and baby seat, according to one embodiment of the present invention, taken along line 2-2 shown in FIG. 3.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the views. Although the drawings represent embodiments of the present invention, the drawings are not necessarily to scale and certain features may be exaggerated in order to better illustrate and explain the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

The embodiments disclosed below, and the specific accompanying language used to describe the same, are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed in the following detailed description. Rather, the embodiments are chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may utilize their teachings. The invention thus includes any alterations and further modifications in the illustrated device which would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, a frame 110 is provided which includes an upper structure 112 with an open interior space 114 carried on a plurality of supports 116. The upper structure 112 is composed of a pair of parallel side bars 118 and a pair of parallel end bars 120 which are shorter than the parallel side bars 118 and which are affixed perpendicular to the parallel side bars 118 in a common horizontal plane. Rails 122 are located on, and affixed to, the parallel side bars 118. The significance of the rails 122 will be clarified later in this detailed description. A plurality of toy holders 124 are provided which allow interchangeable toys 126 to be removably affixed to the frame 110. These toy holders 124 may be located on the upper structure 112, along the top of the parallel side bars 118 and the parallel end bars 120. Finally, a slip resistant mat 128 is located in a horizontal plane adjacent to the floor at the base of the frame 110 and, in one embodiment, encompasses substantially the entire area defined by the vertical projections of the inner part of the upper structure 110. The slip resistant mat 128 may be either permanently or removably affixed to the frame 110 at the lower portions of one or more of the plurality of supports 116.

Alternatively, the slip resistant mat 128 may encompass substantially the entire area defined by the vertical projections of the outer part of the upper structure 112. The slip resistant mat 128 may even substantially cover an area other than what may be defined by vertical projections of the upper structure 112.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 3, a seat assembly 130 is shown containing an aperture 132. The seat assembly 130 is supported on the rails 122 which are affixed to the parallel side bars 118 of the upper structure 112. The seat assembly is configured to slide to each end of the frame 110 on the rails 122. The baby seat 134 is located in and under the aperture 132 in the seat assembly 130. The baby seat 134 is affixed to the seat assembly 130. The baby seat 134 itself may be made of cloth or a similar material. The baby seat 134 is configured to rotate 360° within the seat assembly 130.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a block diagram of the connection between the rail 122 and side bar 118 is shown. The rail 122 is connected to the side bar 118 using an interactive member 410. The interactive member 410 is a physical connection between the rail 122 and the side bar 118. The interactive member 410 may be located in or on the rail 122, the side bar 118, or both.

Referring now to FIG. 5, the rail 122′, in one embodiment of the present invention, is an inwardly projecting wall 510 with a ridge 512 extending substantially perpendicular to the inwardly projecting wall 510. Side bar 118′, inwardly projecting wall 510, and ridge 512 form a channel 514. The seat assembly 130 has an outwardly projecting wall 516 with an inverted ridge 518. Seat assembly 130, outwardly projecting wall 516, and inverted ridge 518 form an interactive member 520 which interacts with the channel 514. The rails 122′ thus support the seat assembly 130.

Referring now to FIG. 6, the rail system may alternatively include a groove 122″, located on the top edge of each of the parallel side bars 118, and ball bearings 610. Ball bearings 610 are also situated within a corresponding inverted groove 612 in the seat assembly 130. Through this arrangement, the parallel side bars 118 support the seat assembly 130, and the ball bearings 610 allow the seat assembly 130 to traverse the length of the groove 122″ on the top of the parallel side bars 118.

Referring now to FIG. 7, the rail system may, in yet another embodiment of the present invention, include at least one wheel 710 operating within the side bar 118′. The side bar includes an inner substantially vertical wall 712, an outer substantially vertical wall 714, an upper substantially horizontal wall 716, a first lower substantially horizontal wall 718, and a second lower substantially horizontal wall 720. These five walls form a side bar 118′ with a hollow interior 722 and a slot 724 which both run the length of the side bar 118′.

The at least one wheel 710 is rotably connected to an axle 726. The axle is connected to a first substantially vertical member 728 extending down through the slot 724. The first substantially vertical member 728 is connected to a substantially horizontal member 730 which is also connected to a second substantially vertical member 732. The second substantially vertical member 732 is connected to the seat assembly 130.

The at least one wheel 710 operates within the hollow interior 722 of the side bar 118′. The at least one wheel 710 rests vertically on the upper face of at least one of the first lower substantially horizontal wall 718 and the second lower substantially horizontal wall 720. The side bar 118′ rests vertically on at least one of the plurality of supports 116 such that the at least one of the plurality of supports 116 do not obstruct the slot 724, first substantially vertical member 728, or substantially horizontal member 732. This arrangement reduces the possibility of a child pinching its fingers due to the difficulty of a child reaching down, under, and back up into, the slot 724.

Referring now to FIG. 8, a block diagram of the connection between the interchangeable toy 126 and the toy holder 124 is shown. An interactive member 810 connects the interchangeable toy 126 to the toy holder 124. The interactive member 810 may be a clip system, glue, screws, nails, buttons, clasps, or any other structure or device that can affix the interchangeable toy 126 to the toy holder 124. The interactive member 810 may be located in or on the interchangeable toy 126, the toy holder 124, or both.

Referring now to FIG. 9, an interchangeable toy 126 is shown. The interchangeable toy 126 is connected to a toy base 910. The toy base 910 has a plurality of clips 912 extending up from the bottom of the toy base 910. Each of the clips 912 has a protrusion 914. The clips 912 are resilient such that after being compressed, and subsequently released, they return to their original positions. The toy holder 124 includes a cavity 916 with a plurality of recesses 918 near the bottom corresponding to the protrusions 914 of the clips 912 on the toy base 910. The number of recesses 918 near the bottom of the cavity 916 of the toy holder 124 may correspond to the number of clips 912 on the toy base 910 of the interchangeable toys 126.

The interchangeable toys 126 are placed in the toy holders 124 by aligning the plurality of clips 912 with the recesses 918 of the toy holder 124. Because the inner walls 920 of the toy holder are angled, as are the contours of the protrusions 914 and the clips 912, downward force applied to the top of the toy base 910 will secure the interchangeable toy 126 in the toy holder 124 because the protrusions 914 fit into the recesses 918 near the bottom of the cavity 916 of the toy holder 124.

The interchangeable toys 126 are removed from the toy holders 124 by compressing the plurality of clips 912 towards each other. This causes the small protrusions 914 to move towards each other, away from the inner walls 920 of the toy holder 124. While the clips 912 remain compressed, and the protrusions 914 are free of the recesses 918 in the cavity 916 of the toy holder 124, the interchangeable toy 126 may be extracted from the toy holder 124. It should be remembered that the plurality of clips 912 are resilient such that after being compressed, and subsequently released, they return to their original positions.

Referring now to FIG. 10, an interchangeable toy 126′ according to another embodiment of the present invention is shown. The interchangeable toy 126′ is connected to a toy base 910′. The toy holder 124′ is comprised of a cavity 916′ with a magnet 1010 located on the bottom of the cavity 916′ of the toy holder 124′. The magnet 1010 may be held in place with an adhesive, screw, nail, or other fastening device. A complementary magnet 1012, with the opposite polarity of magnet 1010, is affixed to the underside of the toy base 910′. The complementary magnet 1012 may be affixed with an adhesive, screw, nail, or other fastening device.

The interchangeable toy 126′ is placed in the toy holder 124′ by applying downward force to the top of the toy base 910′. Because the inner walls 920′ of the toy holder are angled, as are the contours of the toy base 910′, the interchangeable toy 126′ simply slides into place. The magnet 1010 is attracted to the complementary magnet 1012, thus securing the interchangeable toy 126′ in the toy holder 124′.

The interchangeable toy 126′ is removed from the toy holder 124′ by applying an upward force, away from the toy holder 124′. This force need only be large enough to break the magnetic bond between the magnet 1010 and the complementary magnet 1012. Ideally, the magnet 1010 and complementary magnet 1012 form a magnetic bond strong enough to prevent a baby or toddler from removing the interchangeable toy 126′, but weak enough for an adult to remove the interchangeable toy 126′.

Referring now to FIG. 11, the baby seat 134 and seat assembly 130 according to one embodiment of the present invention are shown. The baby seat 134 depends from the baby seat support 1110 which is carried on the seat assembly 130 via ball bearings 1112. The ball bearings 1112 rest between a groove 1114 in the seat assembly 130 and an inverted groove 1116 in the baby seat support 1110. The baby seat 134 and baby seat support 1110 are affixed to one another. When a baby, using the slip resistant stationary baby walker of the present invention, rotates within the baby seat 134, the baby seat support 1110 also rotates. Both the baby seat support 1110 and the baby seat 134 are configured to rotate on the seat assembly 130 because ball bearings 1112 permit such rotation. The baby seat support 1110 rolls over the ball bearings 1112 which, in turn, roll over the seat assembly 130. In this manner, a baby is capable of rotating with the baby seat 134 while remaining in the slip resistant stationary baby walker of the present invention.

The stationary walker of the present invention is used by placing a child in the baby seat 134. While in the baby seat 134, the child may play with the interchangeable toys 126 at one end of the walker. The child may then turn around in the baby seat 134, which is configured to rotate within the seat assembly 130, and proceed to walk down the length of the stationary walker. While walking, the child is supported in the baby seat 134 which, in turn, is supported by the baby seat support 1110 and the seat assembly 130 resting on the rails 122 affixed to the side bars 118 of the upper structure 112. While walking down the length of the stationary walker, the child is unlikely to slip because the slip resistant mat 128 provides the child with traction. Even when the stationary walker is placed on a slippery surface, the child will be assured of traction on the slip resistant mat 128. Upon reaching the opposite end of the stationary walker, the child may play with some of the interchangeable toys 126 located there. Again, the child may rotate within the walker by turning in the baby seat 134, which is configured to rotate within the seat assembly 130. Once rotated, the child may safely walk back to the original location.

While this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known of customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains.