Title:
Recumbent Infant Carrier
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An infant carrier which supports one or more infants in a recumbent position on the back of a user. The infant carrier of present invention includes a central frame upon which an infant support assembly is mounted for carrying an infant in a position which supports the head, neck and body of the infant, so that an infant without sufficiently developed head and neck control may be carried safely and comfortably. The carrier includes a removable canopy for protecting carried infants from the elements. Additionally, the infant carrier enables a user to attach a storage bag or other items selected by the user.



Inventors:
Bray, Kevin Michael (Toronto, CA)
Application Number:
13/912177
Publication Date:
12/12/2013
Filing Date:
06/06/2013
Assignee:
BRAY KEVIN MICHAEL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/158, 224/159
International Classes:
A47D13/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070023471Trowel holderFebruary, 2007Garcia
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20050199658Security backpackSeptember, 2005Brown et al.
20080264992Multipurpose holsterOctober, 2008Westling
20090184143Multi-Use Carrying Bag With An Insulated CompartmentJuly, 2009Witt V et al.
20010015365Backpack attachment system for hardshell musical instrument caseAugust, 2001Flynn
20090188959Sash-style telemetry pouchJuly, 2009Crawford
20080223888BELT ASSEMBLY AND CONTAINER THEREFORESeptember, 2008Meunier
20090095784BACK PACK INCLUDING FRONT POUCHApril, 2009Enriquez
20010017308Helment protector for rucksackAugust, 2001Le Gal
20020165778Product proximity notification system for customers using mobile computers in retail establishmentsNovember, 2002O'hagan et al.



Primary Examiner:
LARSON, JUSTIN MATTHEW
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kevin Bray (4-1303 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4G 2Z8, CA)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An infant carrier for bearing an infant on the back of a user, the infant carrier comprising: a carrying frame assembly and an infant support assembly which supports an infant in a recumbent position generally perpendicular to the torso of a user, wherein the infant support assembly is removably mounted to the carrying frame assembly.

2. The infant carrier as recited in claim 1 wherein the infant support assembly comprises a seating frame fitted with cushioning, upholstery and a restraining harness, and wherein the seating frame includes back, seat, and side surfaces which assure the stability of an infant set in the infant carrier.

3. The infant carrier as recited in claim 2 wherein the restraining harness comprises a plurality of belts secured to the seating frame in a multiple-point restraint configuration, and wherein a belt of the restraining harness is attached to the seating frame with an adjustable clamp that enables the belt to be extended and retracted, and that secures the belt in the selected position.

4. The infant carrier as recited in claim 3 wherein the carrying frame assembly comprises a shoulder strap assembly and a waist belt assembly attached to a central frame, and wherein a plurality of mounting positions on the central frame enable the respective positions of the shoulder strap assembly and waist belt assembly to be varied.

5. The infant carrier as recited in claim 4 wherein the shoulder strap assembly comprises a plurality of padded shoulder straps extending from a superior part of the central frame to an inferior part of the central frame, and wherein each shoulder strap of the shoulder strap assembly comprises a padded superior part and a woven belt inferior part movably joined by a buckle which enables the length of the shoulder strap to be varied by extending or retracting the woven belt inferior part within the buckle.

6. The infant carrier as recited in claim 5 wherein the waist belt assembly comprises a medial cushion and a plurality of waist belts extending from the medial cushion around the abdomen or pelvis of a user and meeting at a side release buckle near the front of the user.

7. The infant carrier as recited in claim 6 wherein a canopy is removably attached to the infant support assembly, said canopy comprising a plurality of supports fastened to the seating frame and between which supports a fabric panel is suspended for sheltering an infant set in the infant carrier from the elements.

8. The infant carrier as recited in claim 7 wherein a plurality of mounting points on the central frame of the carrying frame assembly enable the infant support assembly to be removably mounted to the central frame in a variety of positions.

9. The infant carrier as recited in claim 8 wherein an area of the central frame not occupied by an infant support assembly affords an attachment place for items selected by a user.

10. The infant carrier as recited in claim 9 wherein a storage bag is attached to the area of the central frame not occupied by an infant support assembly.

11. An infant support assembly to be removably mounted on a frame carried on the back of a user, said infant support assembly comprising: a seating frame fitted with cushioning, upholstery and a restraining harness; wherein the infant support assembly supports an infant in a recumbent position substantially perpendicular to the torso of a user wearing a frame upon which the infant support assembly is mounted.

12. The infant support assembly as recited in claim 11 wherein the seating frame includes back, seat, and side surfaces which assure the stability of an infant set in the infant support assembly.

13. The infant support assembly as recited in claim 12 wherein the restraining harness comprises a plurality of belts secured to the seating frame in a multiple-point restraint configuration, and wherein a belt of the restraining harness is attached to the seating frame with an adjustable clamp that enables the belt to be extended and retracted, and that secures the belt in the selected position.

14. The infant support assembly as recited in claim 13 wherein a canopy is removably attached the infant support assembly, said canopy comprising a plurality of supports fastened to the seating frame and between which supports a fabric panel is suspended for sheltering an infant set in the infant support assembly from the elements.

15. A carrying frame assembly to be borne on the back of a user, said carrying frame assembly comprising: a central frame; a shoulder strap assembly attached to the central frame; and a waist belt assembly attached to the central frame; wherein the central frame includes mounting points to accept an infant support assembly for carrying an infant.

16. The carrying frame assembly as recited in claim 15 wherein the shoulder strap assembly comprises a plurality of padded shoulder straps extending from a superior part of the central frame to an inferior part of the central frame, and wherein each shoulder strap of the shoulder strap assembly comprises a padded superior part and a woven belt inferior part movably joined by a buckle which enables the length of the shoulder strap to be varied by extending or retracting the woven belt inferior part within the buckle.

17. The carrying frame assembly as recited in claim 16 wherein the waist belt assembly comprises a medial cushion and a plurality of waist belts extending from the medial cushion around the abdomen or pelvis of a user and meeting at a side release buckle near the front of the user.

18. The carrying frame assembly as recited in claim 17 wherein a plurality of mounting positions on the central frame enable the respective positions of the shoulder strap assembly and waist belt assembly to be varied.

19. The carrying frame assembly as recited in claim 18 wherein an area of the central frame not occupied by an attached infant support assembly accepts the attachment of additional items for carrying on the carrying frame assembly.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to Canada Patent Application No. 2,779,671, which was filed on Jun. 7, 2012.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

NAMES OF THE PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT

Not applicable.

REFERENCE TO A SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISC APPENDIX

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to child carriers, in particular to a type of child carrier which supports one or more infants in a recumbent position on the back of a bearer.

Child carriers which enable transporting a child on either the bearer's front or back torso are popular for transporting a child or infant while minimizing mobility restrictions and physical strain on the bearer. One type of available carrier includes a rigid frame to be mounted on a bearer's back, upon which a supportive restraining device is affixed for holding the child in an upright seated position.

Descriptions and claims pertaining to back-mounted frame carriers are given in several patents. Stephens et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,868,292 discloses a rigid frame apparatus upon which a support for a child is mounted, as well as a system of shoulder straps and waist belt for comfortably securing the carrier frame to a bearer's back. Other patents which describe back-mounted frame carriers include: Hoaglan, Canadian Patent No. 2,040,511; Fair, Canadian Patent No. 2,287,290; and Johnson, Canadian Patent No. 1,138,839.

A common limitation of these designs is the absence of adequate support for infants with limited body control, in particular infants from 0 to 6 months of age. The upright infant seating position described in existing back-mounted carriers does not provide adequate head and neck support for infants who have not developed independent control of their head and neck position, thus creating an injury hazard to infants who are placed in the carrier before having developed the requisite body control. This hazard is widely known; the user instructions of infant carriers which hold the infant in an upright position commonly include advisories discouraging users from bearing an infant in the carrier until the infant has developed independent head control.

The same limitation of the upright infant seating position is known in infant carriers constructed of soft materials. To address this limitation, Dotseth, U.S. Pat. No. 5,246,152 teaches a padded head support for holding an infant's head in a safe position between the head support and the torso of the bearer. Other infant carriers optionally accept a padded insert device with an equivalent head-support function: Frost, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/544,093 discloses an insert of this type. Despite these improvements, such devices nonetheless restrict a user to carrying an infant on the chest until the infant has developed independent head and neck control.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains to an infant carrier that enables a user to bear an infant in a recumbent seated position on the user's back. The carrier is worn on the bearer's back via shoulder straps and a waist belt.

The infant carrier includes an infant support assembly comprising a back, seat and inclined sides which assure the recumbent position and stability of an infant in the carrier. The back and seat parts of the infant support assembly are set at an incline which encourages a safe and comfortable sitting position for the infant. The back, seat and sides of the infant support assembly are cushioned and upholstered with fabric to assure the infant's comfort and reduce physical shock. The infant support assembly also includes a restraining harness to further assure the infant's security within the carrier.

The present invention is an improvement of existing infant carriers in that it discloses a method for safely bearing an infant who lacks independent body control, particularly head and neck control, on a back-mounted carrier, particularly that the infant is supported in a recumbent position. The applicant's novel carrier enables a user to bear an infant in a back-mounted configuration from an earlier infant age than other carriers permit, thus allowing a user to enjoy the comfort of a back-mounted carrier sooner than is otherwise possible. Given that the most comfortable time for carrying an infant is typically during early infancy (when the infant generally is of least weight), applications of the present invention are well suited to the period of their greatest demand.

The present invention further improves existing carrier designs in that it discloses a device for simultaneously providing comfortable and secure distribution of the infant's weight over the surface of the infant support assembly while also optimizing the position of an infant's centre of mass with respect to the bearer's centre of mass. This is accomplished via (a) the particular positioning of the infant within the infant support assembly, and (b) the particular positioning of the infant support assembly on the central frame of the infant carrier. Specifically, the infant support assembly places the infant in a recumbent position which distributes the infant's weight over the infant's head, back or legs. Likewise, the infant support assembly is mounted on the infant carrier such that the infant's centre of mass is aligned with the bearer's centre of mass, thus minimizing weight imbalances on the bearer's shoulders and increasing bearer comfort. Likewise, the infant support assembly is mounted to the infant carrier such that it may be oriented in a right-to-left or left-to-right direction relative to the bearer, according to the bearer's preference. The infant support assembly is mounted to the infant carrier's central frame in one of a plurality of available mounting points distributed vertically along the central frame, enabling the vertical position of the infant support assembly to be adjusted to the bearer's body size.

According to one aspect of the invention there is provided a mounting space on the infant carrier, below the infant support assembly, for affixing one or more auxiliary devices as would complement the invention's use in transporting an infant on a walking activity; examples include a storage bag for diapers or other personal effects, camping gear or food.

Alternatively, the provided mounting space may be used to attach an additional infant support assembly, for bearing more than one infant in the same carrier. In this respect the present invention further improves the prior art by disclosing a device for bearing a plurality of infants on the back of a single user.

According to another aspect of the invention, a removable canopy is mounted to the infant carrier for the purposes of sheltering the infant from the elements.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an infant carrier according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the infant carrier in FIG. 1 from an opposing view point, with the removable canopy not shown.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the infant carrier in FIGS. 1 and 2, with the shoulder strap assembly, waist belt assembly, storage bag and removable canopy not shown.

FIG. 4 is a rear elevation view of the infant carrier in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, illustrating the infant carrier being worn by a user, and with an infant set in the infant support assembly.

FIG. 5 is a similar view to FIG. 4, illustrating an additional infant support assembly mounted in place of the storage bag.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the drawings and, in particular, with reference to FIGS. 1-5, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is an infant carrier comprising an infant support assembly 2 and an auxiliary storage bag 3 mounted to a carrying frame assembly 1.

As depicted in FIGS. 1-5, the infant support assembly comprises a seating frame 4, cushioning and upholstery 5 upon the seating frame, a restraining harness 6 and a canopy 7. The seating frame provides back 8, seat 9 and side surfaces 10 which support an infant set in the infant carrier in a recumbent position generally perpendicular to the torso of a user wearing the infant carrier. An infant set in the infant carrier is understood to be in a recumbent position where the coronal plane of the infant's body is at an angle no greater than 90 degrees with respect to vertical, preferably between 10 and 80 degrees, more preferably between 20 and 70 degrees, and yet more preferably between 30 and 60 degrees, inclusive; and where the infant's hips are flexed, forming an angle between the infant's torso and legs no greater than 180 degrees, preferably no greater than 160 degrees, and more preferably no greater than 135 degrees. The position of an infant set in the infant carrier is understood to be generally perpendicular to the torso of a user wearing the infant carrier where the angle between the sagittal planes of the bodies of the infant and user is less than 180 degrees and greater than 0 degrees, preferably no greater than 155 degrees and no less than 25 degrees, more preferably no greater than 135 degrees and no less than 45 degrees, and yet more preferably no greater than 115 degrees and no less than 65 degrees. Embodiments of the invention in which an infant set in the infant carrier faces to the left of a user are equally as advantageous as embodiments in which the infant faces to the right of the user.

Also secured to the seating frame is the restraining harness 6 for securing an infant in the carrier. The restraining harness comprises a plurality of woven belts which extend from fastening locations 17 on the seating frame and join via connectors 18 that mate with a central buckle 11. The central buckle enables a user to alternately join and separate the belts when placing or removing an infant.

A side release buckle 12 further joins those woven belts of the restraining harness which secure the infant's torso. The side release buckle ensures the correct alignment of the torso belts over the infant's chest, and enables a user to alternately join and separate the torso belts when placing or removing an infant. Additionally, the side release buckle is fastened to the torso belts such that a user may slide the buckle along the length of the torso belts to a position which imposes the correct alignment of the torso belts over the torso of an infant set in the carrier. The superior end of each of the torso belts is secured to the seating frame via an adjustable clamp 13 which enables a user to extend and retract the belt to fit the particular body dimensions of an infant set in the carrier, and to hold the belt securely in the selected position. Acceptable embodiments of the invention include other devices performing the purpose of the adjustable clamp, including buckles, ties, hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners. A shoulder alignment cross brace member 14 further supports each torso belt where the belt crosses a shoulder of an infant set in the carrier. A plurality of mounting points 15 along the length of the seating frame enables a user to vary the alignment of the shoulder alignment cross brace member to the particular shoulder height of an infant set in the carrier. Each end of the shoulder alignment cross brace member includes a retaining arm 16 which prevents the corresponding torso belt from sliding off of the shoulder alignment cross brace member.

The restraining harness also includes a woven belt 19 fastened to the seating frame, and positioned between the legs and over the pelvis of an infant set in the infant carrier. A plurality of mounting points 20 on the seating frame enables a user to vary the position of the belt. The central buckle 11 of the restraining harness is attached to the free end of the belt. The central buckle includes a female coupling slot to accept each of the connectors 18.

Also attached to the seating frame is a removable canopy 7 for protecting an infant set in the carrier from the elements. The canopy comprises a fabric panel 22 suspended on a plurality of supports 21, each support being affixed to the seating frame and bearing the fabric panel above the infant support assembly. The canopy is affixed to the seating frame with removable fasteners which enable a user to remove and re-install the canopy.

In one advantageous embodiment of the invention, the seating frame is constructed of wood panels fastened with metal brackets and machine screws. In other acceptable embodiments the seating frame is made of metal, polymer or any other material with sufficient strength to support an infant set in the carrier. Yet other acceptable embodiments of the seating frame include structures of tubular, box or beam stock with suspended fabric interior panels. With respect to the seating frame in particular and the invention generally, equally acceptable embodiments of the invention include fasteners of any sufficiently strong variety: mechanical fasteners, including bolts, pins, screws or rivets; non-mechanical joints, including adhesives, epoxies or welds; or tension fasteners, including clamps, hooks, fabric or elastic loops, tied cords, or hook-and-loop (Velcro) strips.

In the preferred embodiment, the cushioning of the infant support assembly is made of soft goods, including foam padding in a fabric cover. Other acceptable embodiments include cushioning of injection-moulded polymer foam or fluid-filled cells. In the preferred embodiment the shoulder alignment cross brace member includes a length of tubular metal stock terminated by metal end caps. Other acceptable embodiments include a shoulder alignment cross brace member of material with comparable properties to those of the preferred embodiment, including polymer or reinforced polymer; cross brace structures of non-tubular stock; or moulded, cut or machined structures capable of fulfilling the function of the shoulder alignment cross brace member.

In other acceptable embodiments of the invention, the infant support assembly comprises a single-piece structure which provides the equivalent function of one or more parts of the infant support assembly in the preferred embodiment. Embodiments of this kind include polymer, metal or wood structures formed via cutting, casting, bending, laminating, machining or pressing into a single shape. Other acceptable embodiments likewise include assemblies in which the fasteners joining the infant support assembly to the carrying frame assembly are integrally fabricated into the infant support assembly or the carrying frame assembly. Yet other acceptable embodiments include a plurality of openings in the seating frame through which a user may feed the belts of the restraining harness to selectively position the belts over the body of an infant set in the carrier, thus aggregating the seating frame and the shoulder alignment cross brace member into a single structure. Indeed, it is generally understood that any reduction of a plurality of parts of the invention into a single structure is not a novelty, and that the product of the reduction is an acceptable embodiment of the invention.

The carrying frame assembly 1 comprises a central frame 23, a shoulder strap assembly 24 and a waist belt assembly 25.

The central frame includes a plurality of vertical structural members 26 and horizontal structural members 27 fixed at their points of intersection.

The shoulder strap assembly comprises a plurality of padded fabric shoulder straps 28 radiating from an attachment point at the top of the shoulder strap assembly. The attachment point at the top of the shoulder strap assembly is further secured to a horizontal structural member of the central frame near the superior end of the central frame. Each of the shoulder straps comprises a padded superior part 29 for resting on the shoulders of a bearer of the carrier, and a woven belt inferior part 30. The superior and inferior parts of each shoulder strap are secured to one another via a fixed bar buckle 31 which enables the user to adjust the total length of the shoulder strap by extending or retracting the quantity of the inferior woven belt part through the buckle.

Each of the shoulder straps is secured at its inferior end to a horizontal structural member of the central frame near the inferior end of the central frame. In the preferred embodiment, the inferior end of each of the shoulder straps is secured to the horizontal structural member by a sewn loop 30 at the inferior end of the shoulder strap; the sewn loop encloses the horizontal structural member; and the sewn loop is further secured to the horizontal structural member with a plurality of rivets.

The waist belt assembly 25 comprises a medial cushion 32 and a plurality of padded waist belts 33. The medial cushion includes a padded and upholstered part which rests approximately on the posterior lumbar and pelvic regions of the body of a user bearing the infant carrier. Each of the padded waist belts comprises a padded posterior part and a woven anterior part 34. The posterior part of each of the waist belts extends laterally from a sewn joint at the medial cushion, around the abdomen of a user bearing the infant carrier, and terminates at the point where it is joined to the anterior part by a fixed bar buckle 35. The fixed bar buckle enables a user to vary the total length of the waist belt by extending or retracting the woven anterior part through the buckle. The anterior part of each of the waist belts is further terminated at its anterior end by a male or female half of a side release buckle 36, which enables a user to join or separate the waist belts around the user's abdomen. The waist belt assembly is secured to a horizontal structural member of the central frame near the inferior end of the central frame.

A plurality of mounting positions 37 along the length of each vertical structural member of the central frame enables the vertical positions of the horizontal structural members of the central frame to be varied by a user, thus enabling the distance between the shoulder strap assembly and the waist belt assembly to be altered to suit the particular body dimensions of a user bearing the infant carrier. Likewise, the vertical position of the central frame relative to the torso of a user bearing the infant carrier may be thus altered.

In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the vertical structural members are made of extruded metal which is shaped to approximately complement the typical spinal profile of an adult human bearer and terminated with plastic end caps, and the horizontal structural members are made of tubular metal terminated with metal end caps. Additionally, the intersecting points of the vertical and horizontal structural members are secured with mechanical fasteners, including machine screws, washers and nuts. Other acceptable embodiments of the invention include any combination of vertical structural members or horizontal structural members composed of materials with comparable properties to those of the preferred embodiment, such as wood, polymer or reinforced polymer. In other acceptable embodiments, the fasteners securing the intersecting points of the vertical structural members or horizontal structural members include fasteners of any sufficiently strong variety: mechanical fasteners, including bolts, pins, screws or rivets; non-mechanical joints, including adhesives, epoxies or welds; or tension fasteners, including clamps, hooks, fabric or elastic loops, tied cords, or hook-and-loop (Velcro) strips. In yet other acceptable embodiments, the central frame comprises a cut, laminated, cast, pressed or machined frame of wood, polymer or metal in a single unit which performs the collective function of one or more of the vertical structural members or horizontal structural members.

The infant support assembly is secured to the central frame by a plurality of brackets and cross members 38. Each of the brackets is secured to the central frame with a plurality of mechanical fasteners, and likewise secured to the corresponding cross member. The seating frame of the infant support assembly rests upon the cross members and is secured to each of the cross members with mechanical fasteners. In the preferred embodiment of the infant carrier, the mechanical fasteners securing the brackets or cross members to the central frame or the seating frame are machine screws, washers and nuts. In other acceptable embodiments, the brackets or cross members are secured to the central frame or the seating frame with fasteners of any sufficiently strong variety: mechanical fasteners, including bolts, pins, screws or rivets; non-mechanical joints, including adhesives, epoxies or welds; or tension fasteners, including clamps, hooks, fabric or elastic loops, tied cords, or hook-and-loop (Velcro) strips. In other acceptable embodiments, fittings providing the function of the brackets or cross members are integrated into the seating frame or central frame via casting, machining, tapping, pressing or bending the seating frame or central frame, and it is generally understood that any synthesis of parts of the brackets, cross members, seating frame or central frame constitutes an included embodiment of the invention. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the fasteners securing the brackets to the central frame are compatible for fastening with the plurality of mounting positions along the length of each vertical structural member, so that a user may vary the vertical position of the infant support assembly on the central frame.

The part of the carrying frame assembly which is inferior to the infant support assembly is available for auxiliary items to be mounted to the central frame. In the preferred embodiment, a storage bag 3 is mounted to the central frame below the infant support assembly. The storage bag comprises a plurality of compartments of fabric material closed with zip fasteners. The storage bag is secured to the central frame by a plurality of fabric loops which are sewn at one end to the body of the storage bag, wrapped around a corresponding horizontal or vertical structural member of the central frame, and again secured to the body of the storage bag with a fixed bar buckle 39. In other acceptable embodiments, the fasteners securing the storage bag to the central frame include elastic straps, rivets, hook-and-loop (Velcro) straps or side release buckles. In other acceptable embodiments, the area of the carrying frame assembly for auxiliary items includes a plurality of hooks, rings, carabiners, straps, ties, buckles or other fittings for a user to attach and bear sundry items on the infant carrier. In another advantageous embodiment of the invention, a plurality of additional infant support assemblies is attached to the central frame to enable a user to bear one or more additional infants.

The present invention, therefore, provides an infant carrier device which enables a user to bear one or more infants in a secure recumbent position on the bearer's back, and additionally to bear a variety of auxiliary items.

Although the invention has been described in connection with a preferred embodiment, it should be understood that various modifications, additions and alterations may be made to the invention by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.





 
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