Title:
CHILD CARRIER APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In an example embodiment, a child carrier apparatus for supporting and carrying a standing child is provided. The apparatus comprises a waist-belt assembly releasably securable about the waist of an individual in engagement with the individual's hips to prevent downward movement of the waist-belt assembly when the child is supported by the child carrier apparatus, and at least one step formation on the waist-belt assembly for supporting feet or shoes of the child when the child is carried by the child carrier apparatus.



Inventors:
Fishwick, Nicholas C. (San Francisco, CA, US)
Application Number:
14/338331
Publication Date:
01/29/2015
Filing Date:
07/22/2014
Assignee:
FISHWICK NICHOLAS C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D13/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SKURDAL, COREY NELSON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHWEGMAN LUNDBERG & WOESSNER, P.A. (P.O. BOX 2938, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402, US)
Claims:
1. A child carrier apparatus for supporting and carrying a standing child, the child carrier apparatus comprising: a waist-belt assembly releasably securable about the waist of an individual in engagement with the individual's hips to prevent downward movement of the waist-belt assembly when the child is supported by the child carrier apparatus; and at least one step formation on the waist-belt assembly for supporting feet or shoes of the child when the child is carried by the child carrier apparatus.

2. The child carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one step formation is at least partially enclosed.

3. The child carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one step formation includes a rigid base.

4. The child carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one step formation includes a deformable or semi-rigid material.

5. The child carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one step formation includes a lip formation for engagement with the underside of the child's feet or shoes when a child is carried in the child carrier apparatus.

6. The child carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the waist-belt assembly includes a lumbar support formation.

7. The child carrier apparatus of claim 6, wherein a profile of the lumbar support formation is adjustable.

8. The child carrier apparatus of claim 1, further comprising safety straps releasably securable to the waist-belt assembly and configured to be grasped over the shoulders of the individual by the child standing on the at least one step formation.

9. The child carrier apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a child torso harness.

Description:

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

This patent application claims the benefit of priority, under 35 U.S.C. Section 119(e), to Fishwick, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/858,735, entitled “Child Carrier Apparatus”, filed on Jul. 26, 2013 (Attorney Docket No. 3710.002PRV), which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD

The present disclosure generally relates to an apparatus and method for elevating, supporting or carrying a child.

OVERVIEW

The present inventor has recognized that one problem to be overcome in conventional child carriers is the potential danger of a child's feet slipping through the open-ended stirrups of conventional carriers and the consequent risk of the child falling to the ground. Additionally, the conventional waist straps or belts of such carriers can become uncomfortable to the parent supporting a child in the carrier and in some cases the strap or belt may slip down. Conventional belts are especially prone to slippage under the repeated or “bouncing” loads applied to the belt when a child is carried by a user on a fast walk, for example.

The overall safety of a child carried in a carrier is important, but conventional methods to improve safety have not proved fully effective. The present subject matter can help provide a solution to these problems by providing features such as those described and claimed below.

This overview is intended to provide an overview of subject matter of the present patent application. It is not intended to provide an exclusive or exhaustive explanation of the inventive subject matter. The Description of Example Embodiments below is included to provide further information about the present patent application.

SUMMARY

In an example embodiment, a child carrier apparatus for supporting and carrying a standing child by an individual is provided. The apparatus comprises a waist-belt assembly releasably securable about the waist of the individual in engagement with the individual's hips to prevent downward movement of the waist-belt assembly when the child is supported by the apparatus, and at least one step formation on the waist-belt assembly for supporting the child's feet or shoes when the child is carried by the child carrier apparatus.

The at least one step formation may be at least partially enclosed, or include a rigid base. In some examples, the at least one step formation includes deformable or semi-rigid material. Further, the at least one step formation may include a lip formation for engagement with the underside of the child's feet or shoes when the child is carried.

The waist-belt assembly may include a lumbar support formation to assist in bearing load and prevent slippage, and in some examples the profile of the lumbar support formation is adjustable.

Child safety straps, releasably securable to the waist-belt assembly, may be provided. The straps may be configured to be grasped over the shoulders of the individual by a child standing on the at least one step formation of the carrier.

The child carrier apparatus may also comprise a child torso harness which can be secured to the child safety straps.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The example embodiments are illustrated by way of example, and not limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, like numerals may describe similar components in different views. Like numerals having different letter suffixes may represent different instances of similar components. The drawings illustrate generally, by way of example, but not by way of limitation, various embodiments discussed in the present document.

FIG. 1 shows a side view of a child standing on a child carrier apparatus, according to an example embodiment, with a child standing in place on it.

FIG. 2 shows a rear view of a child standing on the child carrier apparatus depicted in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows a side view of a child standing on a child carrier apparatus, according to an example embodiment.

FIG. 4 shows a side view of a child standing on a carrier apparatus, according to an example embodiment.

FIG. 5 shows a front view of an example waist-belt assembly of a child carrier apparatus, according to an example embodiment.

FIG. 6 shows a front view of the example waist-belt assembly of a child carrier apparatus depicted in FIG. 5 with attachable safety straps, according to example embodiments.

FIG. 7 shows a rear view of an example waist-belt assembly of a child carrier apparatus, according to an example embodiment.

FIGS. 8A-8B show a child torso harness accessory, according to an example embodiment.

FIGS. 9A-9B show views of example magnetic clips and D-rings, according to example embodiments.

FIG. 10 shows a sectional view of a waist-belt assembly, according to an example embodiment.

FIG. 11 shows a rear perspective view of an example waist-belt assembly of a child carrier apparatus with a single step variation.

DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS

A child carrier apparatus 10 (also referred to herein as a carrier) for elevating, supporting and/or carrying a standing child 12 by a user 14 (also referred to herein as an individual) is described. In an example embodiment, the carrier 10 is designed to transfer the weight of the child 12 efficiently onto a load-bearing waist-belt assembly 16 around the waist of the user 14, thus transferring the load onto the hips and legs of the user 14 and not the user 14's back. A properly fitted waist-belt assembly 16 enables the user 14 to carry the child 12 without feeling the weight of the child 12 in the torso or upper limbs. In an example embodiment, the carrier 10 is designed to keep the user 14's arms free, as they do not contribute to the process of carrying the child 12. The carrier 10 is particularly suited to carrying children 12 who are already able to walk and support themselves with their own legs.

Reference is now made to FIG. 1 of the accompanying drawings. A child 12 can step onto the waist-belt assembly 16 of the carrier 10 by placing his or her feet onto at least one step formation 18 (also referred to herein as a step) provided on the waist-belt assembly 16. The child 12 may step onto the step 18 while the user 14, wearing the carrier 10, is crouched down or kneeling on the floor, for example. Once the child 12 is securely in place on the step formation 18, the user 14 can stand up to elevate and support the child 12.

In an example embodiment, the at least one step formation 18 includes two adjacent platforms or surfaces secured onto or formed with an outer surface of the waist-belt assembly 16. In some examples, the at least one step formation 18 is formed integrally with the waist-belt assembly 16.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the weight of a child 12 standing on the at least step formation 18 is transferred through the load-bearing waist-belt assembly 16 to the hips and legs of the user 14. The arms of the user 14 are free. The child 12 may use his or her free hands to hold the user 14's shoulders to secure him- or herself to the user 14. In some examples, the waist-belt assembly 16 may be padded, or include adjustable waist straps 20 and a buckle 22, as shown, to promote a secure and comfortable fit of the waist-belt assembly 16 about the waist of the user 14.

Example Securing Mechanisms

In some examples, an elevated child 12 can be secured by one of the securing mechanisms described below, or a combination of such securing mechanisms. Example securing mechanisms include an arrangement in which the child 12 holds onto the user 14's shoulders, or hugs the user 14 around the shoulders or upper chest area. This arrangement can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 2.

In another example shown in FIG. 3, elongated flexible safety straps 24 are provided. These straps 24 are attachable to the front of the waist-belt assembly 16 and are long enough to extend up the front of the torso of the user 14 and over the user 14's shoulders so that the child 12 can hold the ends of the straps 24. In one arrangement, the child 12 can pass his or her hands through hand loops or holds 26 provided at the free end of each strap 24. The straps 24 may be adjustable in length using adjustment clip 32 and may be secured to the waist-belt assembly 16 using releasable attachment clips 34 securable to D-rings 36. These elements are described in more detail below.

In another example embodiment shown in FIG. 4, a wide band support strap 28 can be looped around the user 14's torso and around the base of the child 12's back as shown, thus reducing the risk of the child 12 falling backwards when riding in an otherwise ‘hands free’ style. In one example, the safety straps 24 which are attachable to the waist-belt assembly 16 can be extended up the front of the user 14's torso and over the user 14's shoulders and attached to a child torso harness 30 worn by the child 12. An example child torso harness 30 is shown in FIG. 8 and described further below. The child torso harness 30 can clip onto the straps 24 and help to prevent the child 12 from falling backwards.

Example Waist-Belt Assembly

With reference to FIGS. 5 and 6, it will be appreciated that the waist-belt assembly 16 can be constructed of any appropriate material or materials, that in combination and construction have the ability to support the weight of a child 12 and transfer that weight effectively through to the belt wearer's hips and legs. The waist-belt assembly 16 may have a load-bearing construction, and may have vertically rigid properties and, in some examples, a soft or padded material exterior to enhance wearer comfort. The waist-belt assembly 16 may include a stiff core material, for example, such as a material of ⅛-¼ inch thickness of stout webbing or leather which can support the attachment of one or more step formations 18 to the waist-belt assembly 16 and facilitate weight transference. The waist-belt assembly 16 may also include a lumbar support formation 37 which is described in more detail below, while the side (as opposed to front) positioning of the D-rings 36 helps to prevent the waist-belt assembly 16 from rising up at the front when the child 12 pulls on the straps 24.

Example Step Formations

Reference is now made to FIGS. 7, 10 and 11. It will be appreciated that the at least one step formation 18 (or step) may be constructed of any appropriate material or materials that in combination and construction have the requisite ability to carry the weight of a child 12 and support the child 12's feet. In some examples, the step 18 is composed of a rigid material, for example a tough plastic material, so that the step 18 does not deform under a child 12's weight. In other examples, a semi-rigid material is included in the step 18 that can deform or bend slightly to engage the sides of the child 12's feet, at least partially, so as to restrain slippage or sideways movement of the child 12's feet. Some example steps 18 do not completely or fully envelop the sides of the child 12's feet, while other examples of steps 18 may substantially enclose a child 12's feet. In some cases, too much deformation of a semi-rigid material might cause the step 18 to grip the feet and thus prevent easy and fast egress off the step 18. The outer material of an example step 18 can be made of any resilient material that has the ability to protect the step 18 core and that is resistant to weather elements and wear from friction.

In an example embodiment, the stepping surface of the step 18 may comprise an additional material to provide a gripping surface for the base of a shoe. An appropriate material is one that has properties of gripping and engaging and contributing to a secure foot placement on the step 18, reducing or preventing accidental movement off the step 18. One example of such a material has physical properties similar to rubber, and may be patterned with tread for additional grip when the surface is wet.

In an example embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the child carrier apparatus 10 includes a waist-belt assembly 16, with two steps 18 at the rear of the waist-belt assembly 16 that allow a child 12 to stand erect on the waist-belt assembly 16. In the illustrated embodiment, the steps 18 are stitched through to a firm core of the waist-belt assembly 16. Each step 18 has a rigid (or semi-rigid or deformable) central portion 18A to support the child's weight when the step 18 is in use, and opposed, outer portions 18B of soft material or fabric that allow the steps 18 to be folded up to lie substantially flush with the waist-belt assembly 16 after use. The folding step arrangement can facilitate storage and carrying of the child carrier apparatus 10 when not in use.

With reference to FIG. 11, in some example embodiments, the waist-belt assembly 16 includes a single step 18 at the rear as illustrated. The step 18 may be wide enough for a child 12 to stand with two feet on the step 18. The step 18 may have one or more of the step features described above. An example double step embodiment has two (wide) spaced steps 18 located around the sides of the waist-belt assembly 16. This arrangement can enable two children 12 to step up onto the waist-belt assembly 16 and be elevated and carried at the same time. Each child 12 may hold one end of a safety strap 24, or be fitted with a child torso harness 30, as desired.

FIG. 10 depicts a sectional view of a step 18 on a waist-belt assembly 16. The step 18 is provided with a lip 47 along the outer edge of the step 18. In order to promote secure and safe engagement of a child 12's foot or shoe with the step 18, the lip 47 is designed to catch on the arch of a shoe's sole, or to fit into the arch of a naked foot, as shown. Additionally, a slight downward incline in the angle of the step toward the belt (or an upward incline from the belt) at an illustrated angle 49 can help to prevent a child 12's foot or shoe from slipping off the step 18.

In another example embodiment, the step(s) 18 at the rear of the child carrier apparatus 10 have a partially enclosed cup shape, the top of which may include an elasticated material. In one example, the child 12 can “jam” his or her foot into the toe cup, with the base of the step(s) 18 supporting the child's weight, while the sides and top of the elasticated cup restrict movement of the child's foot. The elasticated top of the cup may apply a degree of compressive force onto the child's foot or shoe, thus providing an enhanced frictional grip on the step 18 to help prevent the child's foot or shoe from easily slipping off the step(s) 18.

Example Child Torso Harness

With reference to FIGS. 8A and 8B, in an example embodiment, the flexible straps 24 attachable to the waist-belt assembly 16 (for example, via the D-rings 36 described above) can be extended up the front of the torso of the user 14 and over the user 14's shoulders, and attached to securing points on the illustrated child torso harness 30. The securing points can include D-rings 38 of similar construction to the D-rings 36. The shoulder straps 40 of the child torso harness 30 are adjustable at adjustment clip 42 to suit children 12 of different heights and sizes. The waist band 44 of the torso harness 30 is also adjustable around the waist of a child 12. The child torso harness 30 may include hook-and-loop fasteners or other appropriate means at various points for adjusting the waist band 44 and generally securing the child torso harness 30 safely on a child 12.

The child 12 can wear a child torso harness 30 with the child torso harness 30 clipped onto the ends of the safety straps 24 to help secure the child 12 from falling backwards off the child carrier apparatus 10. In some examples, magnetic clips are used for convenient attachment of the child torso harness 30 to the straps 24, and these are described in more detail below.

Example Retractable Straps

As described elsewhere in this specification, the child carrier apparatus 10 may include flexible safety straps 24. In some examples, these straps 24 may be retractable. A retractable strap 24 may be provided on each side of the waist-belt assembly 16 in a strap winder housing (not shown) positioned near the front or buckle of the waist-belt assembly 16 (within easy reach of the user 14 when the child carrier apparatus 10 is in use) and approximately on the hipbone of the user 14. The retractable straps 24 may be configured to include hand loops or holds as described above.

When a child 12 is standing on a step(s) 18, the user 14 can pass a free end of each retractable strap 24 in turn up to the child 12 for the child 12 to hold. The user 14 can then “lock” each strap 24 from expanding any further using a latch, for example, provided at the side of each strap 24's respective winder housing. When the child 12 releases the strap(s) 24, the user 14 can operate the latch again to release the winder in the housing such that the strap 24 automatically winds up and recoils into the housing, thus putting itself away.

Example Retractable Self-Locking Straps

In another example embodiment, retractable self-locking straps 24 are provided on each side of the waist-belt assembly 16, which may generally be positioned and configured as described above, but in this example, the straps are retained in inertia reel housings. Other strap-locking arrangements are possible. As before, when a child 12 is standing on a step(s) 18, a user 14 can pass a free end of each strap 24 in turn up to the child 12 to hold. In normal use, the retractable straps 24 remain free-running and the child 12 can constantly adjust them by pulling more strap length out of the inertia reel housing, or letting the strap(s) 24 go to self-retract as described above. In this example, if the child 12 were suddenly to pull on a strap 24, either by grabbing it sharply or falling backwards, the pulled strap 24 would automatically lock. If a strap 24 is dropped, or let loose, it automatically rewinds into the housing.

Example Magnetic Clips

Reference is now made to FIGS. 9A and 9B, which show an example magnetic clip and straps for use with the child torso harness 30 depicted in FIGS. 8A-8B. This example embodiment facilitates attaching a safety strap 24 to a child torso harness 30. Typically, when a child 12 is standing on the child carrier apparatus 10 behind the user 14's back, it is difficult for the user 14 to reach around to the child 12 or up to the child torso harness 30. Trying to attaching a strap 24 to a child torso harness 30 in this position can be unsafe. The present embodiment seeks to provide a one-handed operation for a user 14 by employing a self-guiding clip 46. The self-guiding clip 46 can assist the user 14 in connecting one end of a strap 24 to a child torso harness 30 (or, for that matter, to any securing point or D-ring 36 or 38 as described herein).

FIGS. 9A and 9B show how a clip 46 having generally heart-shaped jaws 50 can be pinched to be opened wide. The user 14 is able to hold and keep the clip 46 open at the same time, one handed. The user 14 can pass the clip 46 up over his/her shoulder towards the child torso harness 30 worn by the standing child 12 on the child carrier apparatus 10. The clip 46 has a magnet (or two magnets) 48 at or towards an inner section of the jaws 50. The D-ring 38 on the child torso harness 30 has a corresponding magnet 52 of opposite pole so that the magnets 48 and 52 attract each other. The magnetic attraction lifts the D-ring 38 to a horizontal or lifted position (see FIG. 9B) and the attraction guides the D-ring 38 and clip 46 together. When the user 14 hears a click sound of the two magnets 48 and 52 connecting or sees the magnets connect, the user 14 can release his or her hold on the clip 46 to cause the jaws 50 of the clip 46 to close around the D-ring 38 and hence create a secure attachment between the strap 24 and the child torso harness 30. The clip 46 has a square metal ring 54 for attachment to a safety strap 24.

Adjustable Lumbar Support

In an example embodiment of a child carrier apparatus 10, lumbar support for the base of the user 14's back is provided. A lumbar support formation 36, shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, is designed to assist in preventing the waist-belt assembly 16 from slipping down below the user 14's hip line when in use. It will be appreciated that each user 14 may (likely will) have a different lower back arch from other users 14. Because lower back arch profiles differ from one user to another, an adjustable lumbar support formation 36 is conveniently provided. The lumbar support formation 36 can be adjusted to conform to the depth of a user's lower back arch.

In one example, such adjustment is achieved by means of an inflatable lumbar support formation 36. In this version, a user 14 is able to variably inflate the lumbar support 36, thus increasing or decreasing its profile to suit the user 14's lower back arch profile. The mechanism of inflation is provided by a simple blow valve (not shown) that can let the user 14 inflate a bladder within the lumbar support formation 36, or by a small hand crank, for example, that enables inflation or deflation of the lumbar support formation 36 while the user 14 is wearing the waist-belt assembly 16.

In another example embodiment, lumbar support adjustment is provided through the use of appropriately shaped insert elements included with the child carrier apparatus 10. The inserts can be used to vary the profile of the lumbar support formation 36 on the waist-belt assembly 16. In this example, the user 14 is able to variably add or remove inserts (not shown) to or from the lumbar support formation 36, thus increasing or decreasing its profile to suit a particular configuration of user lower back profile. The inserts can slide into pockets in the lumbar support formation 36 to increase or boost the profile of the support, or be withdrawn to the opposite effect.

Non-Limiting Embodiments

Each of the non-limiting example embodiments described herein can stand on its own, or can be combined in various permutations or combinations with one or more of the other examples.

The above Description of Example Embodiments includes references to the accompanying drawings, which form a part of the Description of Example Embodiments. The drawings show, by way of illustration, specific embodiments in which the inventive subject matter can be practiced. These embodiments are also referred to herein as “examples.” Such examples can include elements in addition to those shown or described. However, the present inventor also contemplates examples in which only those elements shown or described are provided. Moreover, the present inventor also contemplates examples using any combination or permutation of those elements shown or described (or one or more aspects thereof), either with respect to a particular example (or one or more aspects thereof), or with respect to other examples (or one or more aspects thereof) shown or described herein.

In the event of inconsistent usages between this document and any documents so incorporated by reference, the usage in this document controls.

In this document, the terms “a” or “an” are used, as is common in patent documents, to include one or more than one, independent of any other instances or usages of “at least one” or “one or more.” In this document, the term “or” is used to refer to a nonexclusive or, such that “A or B” includes “A but not B,” “B but not A,” and “A and B,” unless otherwise indicated. In this document, the terms “including” and “in which” are used as the plain-English equivalents of the respective terms “comprising” and “wherein.” Also, in the following claims, the terms “including” and “comprising” are open-ended; that is, a system, device, article, composition, formulation, or process that includes elements in addition to those listed after such a term in a claim are still deemed to fall within the scope of that claim. Moreover, in the following claims, the terms “first,” “second,” “third,” etc. are used merely as labels, and are not intended to impose numerical requirements on their objects.

The above description is intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. For example, the above-described examples (or one or more aspects thereof) may be used in combination with each other. Other embodiments can be used, such as by one of ordinary skill in the art upon reviewing the above description. The Abstract is provided to comply with 37 C.F.R. §1.72(b), to allow the reader to quickly ascertain the nature of the technical disclosure. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims. Also, in the above Description of Example Embodiments, various features may be grouped together to streamline the disclosure. This should not be interpreted as intending that an unclaimed disclosed feature is essential to any claim. Rather, inventive subject matter may lie in less than all features of a particular disclosed embodiment. Thus, the following claims are hereby incorporated into the Description of Example Embodiments as examples or embodiments, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment, and it is contemplated that such embodiments can be combined with each other in various combinations or permutations. The scope of the inventive subject matter herein should be determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.