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1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to a safety device for an infant changing table. More specifically, the present invention relates to a guard that can be temporarily erected upon a changing table to prevent an infant from falling off the table and becoming injured.
2. Description of the Background Art
Changing the diaper of a newborn can be challenging for both new parents and experienced parents alike. Diaper changing is typically carried out on a diaper changing table. The infant must be gently restrained on the table while the parent tends to removing the soiled diaper, cleaning the infant, and putting on a clean diaper. The clothing of the infant may likewise need to be changed. Creams or ointments may also have to be applied to the infant in the event of diaper rash. All of this must be carried out upon an infant that is often times kicking, squirming, and flailing about. Also, the older a child gets, the more increased the activity, thereby increasing the need for safety features.
These activities also require the parent or caretaker to reach for various supplies, such as diapers, clothes, ointments, and baby changing wipes. The parent must be able to access these supplies while at the same time ensuring that the child is gently restrained upon the changing table. Disastrous consequences can befall an infant who is not properly restrained. In the event the parent needs to step away from the table to access additional supplies, even for a brief moment, the infant could potentially roll off the edge of the table become injured. Obviously, this would be any parent's worst nightmare. For this reason, various infant changing tables have been devised over the years with various support and/or safety features. None, however, have been designed like the present invention.
For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 6,097,294 to Hilton discloses an infant protective safety support with indicating means. The device is designed to facilitate an adult and infant to sleep in the same bed. The support includes a barrier that is detachably adjusted with hook and loop fasteners to a cloth base. The device includes electronic means for awakening sleeping adults should they roll in contact with the barrier.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,647 to Helmsderfer discloses a diaper changing station with a base and a support platform that is hingedly mounted to one side of the base. A rail structure is also included on at least on side of the platform to effectively increase the depth of the platform. A utility channel also surrounds the platform for holding various baby changing supplies.
Finally, U.S. Pat. No. 2,594,883 to Donnen discloses a safety holding board for use in caring for babies. The board includes two triangle shaped portions for use in retaining a child.
Although the above referenced inventions achieve their individual objectives, none are specifically directed to a safety apparatus that can be retrofitted to an existing standard type changing table and which serves to prevent a child from rolling off the edge of the changing table. Additionally, this product is designed to fit with the standard changing table mattresses which are sold today. Nor are the referenced inventions directed to a device than can be folded up for storage and travel.
It is therefore one of the objectives of this invention to provide a device that can be easily and temporarily installed upon an existing changing table to provide greater infant safety.
It is another objective of this invention to provide a barrier that can be erected along the side of a changing table to prevent an unattended infant from rolling off the table.
It is yet another objective of this invention to provide a foldable device that has a collapsed configuration for storage and a deployed configuration when installed on an infant table.
The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the more pertinent and important features of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood so that the present contribution to the art can be more fully appreciated. Additional features of the invention will be described hereinafter which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and the specific embodiment disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.
For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the changing table guard of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is another perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the changing table guard of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a perspective illustration of the guard installed upon a infant changing table.
FIG. 4 is a detailed view of one of the support arms in its collapsed configuration.
Similar reference characters refer to similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings.
The present invention relates to a safety guard that can be easily and temporarily installed upon an existing infant changing table right below the standard changing mattress. The guard generally includes a number of lateral supports that can be positioned over the width of the changing table. The distal ends of these supports each include a hinge or hook that permits the arm to be secured over the edge of the changing table, only if necessary. A length of netting is secured to the opposite ends of the supports. With the distal ends secured about the edge of the table, the netting is positioned adjacent the opposite edge at a 90° angle to the table surface. In this position, the guard effectively prevents an infant falling off the side of the table. The various features of the present invention, and the manner in which they interrelate, will be described in greater detail hereinafter.
With reference to FIG. 1, the primary structural component of guard 20 is a series of three lateral supports 22. These supports 22 are preferably constructed from a high strength steel or aluminum. Although three supports 22 are depicted in the preferred embodiment, additional supports can be employed in the event more stability is desired. The lateral supports 22 have an identical construction so only one is described in detail. Each lateral support 22 is defined by proximal and distal ends (24 and 26, respectively) with an intermediate extent 28 therebetween. With guard 20 properly installed on changing table 30, proximal end 24 is defined as the end adjacent to the individual standing before changing table 30. Likewise, distal end 26 is referenced as the opposite end. As noted in FIG. 1, proximal end 24 of support 22 is positioned at a 90° angle relative to the intermediate extent 28. Preferably, this angle is formed by a fixed bend in lateral support 22. Alternately, in at least one embodiment, the up turned proximal end 24 is as a result of a pivot or joint, thereby allowing the angle of the proximal ends 24 to be adjusted.
With continuing reference to FIG. 1, the distal ends 26 are described. Again, because lateral supports 22 share a similar construction, only one end 26 is described in detail. As illustrated, each distal end 26 includes a joint 32 that allows distal end 26 to be folded over on top of the adjacent intermediate extent 28. In this manner the lateral support 22 can be bent into U-shape. This shape allows distal end 26 to be secured over the edge 48 of the infant changing table 30. Alternatively, joint 32 can be eliminated by simply providing a distal end 26 in the shape of a hook that is dimensioned to fit over the edge of table 30. The intermediate extent 28 of each support 32 includes two equally spaced joints 34. Joints 34 allow the entire baby changing guard 20 to be folded into a compact configuration as noted in FIG. 4.
In one alternative embodiment, supports 22 are strengthened by the presence of a longitudinal support 36. As with supports 22, longitudinal support 36 is preferably constructed from a high strength steel or aluminum. As illustrated, longitudinal support 36 spans the intermediate extent 28 of the three lateral supports 22 and serves to provide increased rigidity to the entire guard structure 20. However, longitudinal support 36 is present only in an alternate embodiment and does not form a necessary component of guard 20.
As noted in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, the primary safety feature of the guard 20 is a length of netting 38. Netting 38 is secured to the proximal ends 24 of the three lateral supports 22. The attachment between netting 38 and ends 24 can be accomplished by sleeves sewn at spaced intervals along the length of netting 38. These sleeves can be used to accept the angled proximal ends 24 of the three lateral supports 22. More specifically, two ends 24 are secured within sleeves formed at the opposite ends of netting 38 and one end 24 is secured within a sleeve at the mid-point of netting 38. In this manner, netting 38 is securely fixed to the proximal ends 24 and is further retained at a 90° angle relative to lateral supports 22.
The manner in which guard 20 is installed on changing table 30 is illustrated with reference to FIG. 3. As with most changing tables, changing table 30 includes a planar upper surface 46 with a series of downwardly extending legs 52. Additionally, planar surface 46 has two elongated and opposing side edges 48. Guard 20 is installed by positioning the three lateral supports 22 over the upper surface 46 of table 30. Thereafter, distal ends 26 are folded over the adjacent side edge 48 of table 30. If the hook shaped ends 26 of the alternative embodiment are employed, these hooks are secured about the side edge 48. Moreover, due to the cantilevered nature of the attachment, with guard 20 properly installed, any force applied to proximal ends 24 will only serve to strengthen the attachment between distal ends 26 on the edge of table 30. Distal ends 26 are preferably secured over an edge 48 of the table 30 that is adjacent to a wall or other vertical surface. Additional securement is provided by rubber stoppers 56. As noted in FIGS. 1 and 2, these stoppers are located upon each support adjacent the netting and adjacent joint 32. An additional stopper 56 can be located along the longitudinal support 36. These stoppers 56 serve to grip the underlying table 30 to prevent the device 20 from slipping. Thus, because a caregiver can not approach the infant 44 from the distal side of table 30, there is no risk of the infant falling from that side of the table 30. Accordingly, there is no need to erect a length of netting along the distal side of table 30.
With the lateral supports 22 so secured, netting 38 is positioned along the opposite, and proximal, side of table 30. As illustrated, due to the angled proximal ends 24, netting 38 is maintained at a 90° angle to upper surface 46 of table 30. Finally, to prevent infant 44 from coming into contact with lateral supports 22, a cushion or a mat 54 can be positioned over the lateral supports 22 and over upper surface 46. Once so secured, a parent or guardian can change or otherwise care for infant 44 by reaching over netting 38. However, netting 30 will prevent infant 44 from accidentally rolling off the edge 48 of table 30. Of course, in the event a user wishes to remove netting 38, guard 20 can be easily removed by simply uncoupling ends 26 from the edge of table 30. The individual supports 22 can thereafter be folded at hinges 34 to place the entire guard 20 into a compact shape for storage and/or transport. The present disclosure includes that contained in the appended claims, as well as that of the foregoing description. Although this invention has been described in its preferred form with a certain degree of particularity, it is understood that the present disclosure of the preferred form has been made only by way of example and that numerous changes in the details of construction and the combination and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.