Title:
Infant protective and support device and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is an infant protective and support system and method. The system includes two support pillows having a case and a filling. The support pillows are connected with one another via adjustable releasable fastening strips such as Velcro® strips. The invention may be used to constrain an infant in a desired position during sleeping periods or diaper changes. It may also be used to support and infant's head and neck during periods of travel in an automobile. Lastly, the invention may aid in teaching a child to sit. The system may be used with multiple infants such is the case in of daycare centers.



Inventors:
Hanley, Scott (Norfolk, VA, US)
Hanley, Lita (Norfolk, VA, US)
Application Number:
09/940964
Publication Date:
03/06/2003
Filing Date:
08/29/2001
Assignee:
HANLEY SCOTT
HANLEY LITA
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/640, 5/630
International Classes:
A47C20/00; A47C20/02; A47D15/00; A47G9/10; B60N2/28; (IPC1-7): A47C20/00; A47G9/00
View Patent Images:
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20090165213RETICULATED MATERIAL BODY SUPPORT AND METHODJuly, 2009Collins et al.
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Primary Examiner:
MITCHELL, KATHERINE W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bradley D. Goldizen, Esq. (Virginia Beach, VA, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. An infant protective support device comprising: a removable pad having at least one flat side; a cover having a first releasable fastening strip attached thereto, said cover further comprising an opening for inserting and removing said removable pad and a means of securely closing said opening; and a connecting means comprising a second releasable fastening strip for attaching to said first fastening strip on said cover.

2. The infant protective support device of claim 1 further comprising: a second removable pad having at least one flat side; a second cover having a third releasable fastening strip attached thereto, said cover further comprising an opening for inserting and removing said removable pad and a means of securely closing said opening; and a second connecting means comprising a forth-releasable fastening strip for attaching to said third fastening strip on said second cover.

3. The infant protective support device of claim 1, wherein said first and second fastening strips comprise cooperating hook and loop fasteners.

4. The infant protective support device of claim 1, wherein said first and second fastening strips comprise cooperating snap fastening strips.

5. The infant protective support device of claim 2, wherein said third and fourth fastening strips comprise cooperating hook and loop fasteners.

6. The infant protective support device of claim 2, wherein said third and fourth fastening strips comprise cooperating snap fastening strips.

7. The infant protective support device of claim 1, wherein said cover further comprises an opening for inserting and removing said removable pad and a means for securely closing said opening.

8. The infant protective support device of claim 1, wherein said removable pad comprises a plurality of connectable modules having at least one releasable fastening strip between said connectable modules.

9. An infant protective support device, comprising: support means having at least one flat side; cover means having a first releasable fastening strip attached thereto; and, connecting means for attaching a second releasable mating fastening strip to said first releasable fastening strip.

10. The infant protective support device of claim 9, further comprising: a second support means having at least one flat side; a second cover means having a third releasable fastening strip attached thereto; and, a second connecting means for attaching a fourth releasable mating fastening strip to said third releasable fastening strip.

11. The infant protective support device of claim 9, wherein said first and second releasable mating fastening strip comprises cooperating hook and loop fasteners.

12. The infant protective support device of claim 9, wherein said first and second releasable mating fastening strip comprises cooperating snap fastening strips.

13. The infant protective support device of claim 10, wherein said third and fourth releasable mating fastening strip comprises cooperating hook and loop fasteners.

14. The infant protective support device of claim 10, wherein said third and forth releasable mating fastening strip comprises cooperating snap fastening strips.

15. The infant protective support device of claim 9, wherein said cover means further comprises an opening for inserting and removing said support means.

16. The infant protective support device of claim 9, wherein said support means comprises a plurality of connectable modules having at least one releasable fastening strip between said connectable modules.

17. An infant protective support system comprising: two supports, each support having at least one flat surface; two releasable fastening strips affixed to each support; and, a connecting means comprising a releasable fastening strip.

18. The infant protective support system of claim 17 wherein one of said two releasable fastening strips on each support comprises a material that is matable with one of the releasable fastening strip on the other support.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to protective devices for positioning and protecting an infant during periods of sleep and travel. More particularly, the present invention provides a device that will help protect an infant from rolling onto his stomach while sleeping. The device also may be used to provide support for an infant's head while being transported in a stroller or child safety seat. Further, the device may be used to assist an adult in trying to teach a child how to sit.

[0002] Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant that is less than one-year old. Although investigations have been conducted, the cause of SIDS remains unexplained. SIDS usually occurs in infants between 2 and 4 months of age. The number of SIDS related deaths in the United States ranges between 5,000-7,000 annually. Many researchers believe that the number of SIDS incidents can be reduced by placing an infant on his side or back while the infant is sleeping. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants sleep on their backs or sides to reduce the risk for SIDS.

[0003] Another problem experienced by parents caring for an infant relates to the lack of muscle mass in a baby's neck. When caring for an infant, a caregiver must support the back of the child's head when picking the child up. This action is necessary during handling of the child to prevent injury. When an infant with weak neck muscles is placed in a stroller or child car seat, a potential for injury to the infant's neck is created. The weight of the infant's head tends to cause the neck of the infant to flop into an unacceptable position which may result in injury.

[0004] Ordinarily children learn how to sit by being held on the lap of an adult, seated in a car seat or placed in a stroller. If a child is neither held by another nor positioned in a device such as a car seat, the child is typically placed on a rug or in a crib to play. Many rugs or carpets are unsanitary and may lead to infecting an infant with a disease. The present invention can be used to constrain a child in a sitting position.

[0005] In response to the above-mentioned suggestion by the American Academy of Pediatrics, various devices have been developed to position a sleeping infant in a particular position. U.S. Design Pat. No. 432,846 discloses an infant support pillow having soft or rolled edges. Strips are attached at the vertical midpoint on each pillow. The rolled edges and the strips tend to create an axis of rotation in the center of a pillow when an infant is positioned under the strips and rolls against the pillow. Therefore, this device cannot properly constrain an infant in a desired sleeping position.

[0006] U.S. Design Pat. No. 309,068 to Jordan et. al. depicts a baby support pillow having a removed portion generally in the shape of an infant. An infant can be placed inside of the removed portion in a desired position. However, if the infant is substantially smaller than the removed portion, the infant may be able to roll into an undesirable position during a sleep session. Likewise the pillow is rendered inoperable if the infant's size exceeds the size of the removed portion of the pillow.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,499,418 to Tan et al. discloses a body support for a child or baby consisting of a pair of bolster cases and a flexible sheet connector. The bolster cases connect with one another by a single sheet of fabric attached to the side of each case. The distance between the bolsters may be reduced by rolling the sheet of fabric onto a bolster.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 5,586,351 to Ive discloses a support article for engaging an infant's head to provide lateral stability to an infant's head and neck. Although exemplary of the relevant art, none of these devices successfully has provided a solution to the various problems noted above.

[0009] Accordingly it is desirable to provide an infant protective system that constrains and supports an infant in a recommended sleeping position. It is also desirable to provide a device that supports and protects an infant's head during travel. Further, it is desirable to have a support device that may be utilized to help teach a child to sit.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0010] In the preferred embodiment, the present invention overcomes the above-mentioned problems while meeting the recognized needs for such an infant protective and support device. This device is comprised of at least two supports having a generally rectangular shape in cross-section. The supports connect with one another by at least one mating releasable fastening strip of cloth. An additional strip of cloth may be added and the distance between the supports may be adjusted to a desired length. The adjusting means allows the supports to be positioned an infinite amount of intervals apart from one another. The supports may comprise foam rubber enclosed in cloth cases with the mating releasable fastening cloths being attached to the cover.

[0011] In another embodiment several mating releasable fastening strips of cloth are fixed to the cover at uniform intervals. The fastening strips may extend parallel to the length of each support. The fastening strips on each cover help create a device that is expandable. In other words, a plurality of supports may be coupled together to yield a system for positioning more than one infant during periods of sleep.

[0012] In another embodiment, two supports are connected together via a fastening means on one side and a fastening strip on a side opposite the fastening means. This embodiment may be used to aid an infant in sifting. For example, two supports are positioned against the spine area of the infant. The supports are fastened together with a fastening means such as a snap fastener or hook and latch material. A fastening strip is connected to one support and runs under the armpits of the infant. The fastening strip is then connected to the second support. Thus, the fastening strip acts as a belt to hold the supports in contact with the infant's spine, and the end of each support is in contact with the floor.

[0013] In another embodiment, the supports are used to retain the infant in a desired sleeping position. In this embodiment, the supports are connected together and the fastening strip is passed under both armpits of the infant. The supports are then arranged such that a flat surface on one of the supports is in contact with the surface upon which the infant is resting.

[0014] In a further embodiment, each support may include a plurality of removable modules. The modules can be configured to create a support of desired length. Each support module comprises a cover and a plurality of mating releasable fastening strips of cloth. For example, several support modules are connected together, via mating releasable fastening strips of cloth, to create a support of desired length. The supports can therefore be used for different sized infants and for different functions. In this embodiment, the supports are configured to be used to support the neck of an infant.

[0015] It is an object of the invention to provide an infant protective and support device capable of constraining and supporting an infant child in a desired sleeping position.

[0016] It is another object of the invention to provide an infant protective and support device capable of being used to support the neck and head of an infant while the infant is traveling in a stroller or automobile child safety seat.

[0017] It is a further object of the invention to provide an infant protective and support device capable of being used to support a child in a sitting position.

[0018] It is another object of the invention to provide an infant protective and support device that may be used to help immobilize a baby during diaper changes.

[0019] It is another object of the invention to provide an infant protective and support device that is easy to use and washable.

[0020] It is another object of the invention to provide an infant protective and support device that may be used to constrain multiple infants in a desired sleeping position.

[0021] It is another object of the invention to provide a method of positioning multiple infants during a nap session.

[0022] It is another object of the invention to provide a method of protecting an infant during periods of travel.

[0023] These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to a skilled artisan by reference to the following description of the preferred embodiment, the claims, and the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0024] FIG. 1A is a perspective view of the infant protective and support device of the present invention.

[0025] FIG. 1B is a front or rear view of the infant protective and support device of the invention.

[0026] FIG. 1C is a top view of the infant protective and support device of the invention.

[0027] FIG. 1D is a bottom view of the infant protective and support device of the invention.

[0028] FIG. 2 is a bottom view of one of the supports.

[0029] FIG. 3 is an end view of an adjustable length support.

[0030] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an adjustable length support.

[0031] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the infant protective and support system configured for accommodating multiple infants.

[0032] FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the infant protective and support system being used to support the neck and head of an infant.

[0033] FIG. 6B is a view of an alternative method of using the infant protective and support system being used to support the neck and head of the infant.

[0034] FIG. 7 is a view of the infant protective and support system being used to support an infant in a sitting position.

[0035] FIG. 8A is a view of a baby shown in a sleeping position.

[0036] FIG. 8B is a view of a different method of constraining the infant in a sleeping position such that the infant is on his back.

[0037] FIG. 8C is a view of an infant being constrained on his side.

[0038] FIG. 8D is the same view as FIG. 8C except the infant's arms are raised above his head.

[0039] FIG. 8E depicts an infant being constrained on his stomach.

[0040] FIG. 8F depicts the infant protective and support system being used to aid an adult in changing the diaper of the infant.

[0041] FIG. 9A is a perspective view of a baby shown in a sitting position.

[0042] FIG. 9B is a side view of FIG. 9A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0043] The following is the preferred embodiment or best mode for carrying out the invention. It should be noted that this invention is not limited by the discussion of the preferred embodiment.

[0044] FIG. 1 depicts an infant protective and support device of the present invention. The device is comprised of two supports 1; each having a cross-section that is rectangular in shape. However, the supports may be any shape that has a side with a flat surface that may be positioned parallel to a direction in which an infant is to be supported. The side of the device with a flat surface is necessary for preventing the device from rolling over when the device is used with a solid object, such as a wall, to position an infant during a nap session.

[0045] The device of FIG. 1 further comprises a removable cover 5 for covering a formed or shaped piece of foam rubber (not shown). In the preferred embodiment, the removable cover 5 comprises a plurality of hook and loop fastening strips 3, such as those sold under the brand name of Velcro®, sewn or attached to the flat side of each cover 5 for attaching it to another support via connecting strips 7. The connecting strips 7 are comprised of the opposite type of material as that of the fastening strips 3. For example if the fastening strips 3 are comprised of loops; then the connecting strip 7 is comprised of hooks. The hook and loop fastening strips 3 affixed to the removable cover 5 are located on a flat side of the foam rubber and may be oriented perpendicular to the length of the foam rubber. This hook and loop-fastening strip extends from one edge of the flat side to the opposite edge. If a plurality of strips are provided on the cover 5 they may be alternated. For example, a strip of hooks may be located next to a strip of loops. If snaps are used then male and female strips may be alternated on each strip.

[0046] If the hook and loop strips are detachable, they may be removed when an infant is positioned between the device and a solid object such as a wall or side of a crib. Whereas, if the hook and loop strips are sewn or permanently attached to the cover, they are positioned so as to not come in contact with the infant's skin to prevent irritation thereof during a nap or sleeping session.

[0047] It should be noted that the removable cover may comprise a fastening means such as buttons or snaps that allow access to the foam rubber. A strip of buttons or snaps may also be sewn onto the cover for connecting the first device with a second device as discussed later in this application.

[0048] FIG. 2 is a bottom view of one of the supports. A plurality of fastening strips 3 are attached to the bottom of the supports. In FIG. 2, the fastening strips 3 are shown as being oriented parallel to the length of the support. However, they may be orientated perpendicular to the length of the support. As previously mentioned, the fastening strips 3 may be either hook and latch type or snap types. The strips may be oriented in any fashion such that mating strips can mate with the fastening strips attached to the cover.

[0049] FIG. 3 is an end view of an adjustable length support. Several fastening strips 3 are attached to an end of a support module 9. The support modules 9 can be configured to yield a support of desired length. This embodiment of the invention is very useful for providing a support having a short length for supporting the neck and head of an infant as shown in FIG. 6. A longer support may be configured for constraining an infant in a sleeping position.

[0050] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an adjustable length support. Several support modules 9 having adjustable mating fastening strips are configured to provide a support 1. The adjustable mating fastening strips 3 may be configured as shown in FIG. 3 or alternative methods as discussed above.

[0051] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the infant protective and support system configured for accommodating multiple infants. In this embodiment, three supports 1 are connected via adjustable mating connecting strips 7. The infants are placed between the supports 1. The method for positioning several infants comprises arranging the supports at a desired distance. Typically, the desired distance is a little larger than the width of the infant that is to be placed between the supports. However, the distance cannot be great enough such that no constraint is placed upon the infant and the infant is free to roll over onto his stomach. The desired distance is typically 1 to 5 percent larger than the width of the infant. After obtaining the desired distance, the supports are securely fastened to the adjustable mating connecting strips that connect the supports to one another. The infants are then placed between the supports in the desired sleeping position.

[0052] FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the infant protective and support system being used to support the neck and head of an infant. In the preferred embodiment, flat sides of the supports are positioned next to the head of the infant. However, the supports 1 may configured in any fashion to support the head and neck of the infant. For example the supports may be configured as shown in FIG. 6B. Alternatively, the supports may be configured as shown in FIG. 7. As previously mentioned, the support 1 as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 may be used to support the infants head and neck. The method is essentially the same as that mentioned above with respect to FIG. 4. The supports 1 are positioned against the head of the infant and along the portion of the neck between the head and shoulder. The adjustable mating connecting strips 7 secure the supports 1 such that the head is supported by the supports.

[0053] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the infant protective and support system being used to support an infant in a sitting position. In this embodiment, two triangular shaped supports 11 are configured on each side to produce square supports 1. The square supports 1 are placed on either side of the infant at a desired distance. This distance is typically arranged as mentioned above. The triangular supports may be substituted for square supports to implement the methods disclosed throughout the application.

[0054] FIG. 8A is a perspective view of a baby shown in a sleeping position. The supports 1 are shown on either side of the baby. This is one manner in which the baby may be positioned using the infant protective and support device. Alternatively, the supports may be used as shown in FIG. 8B. The variety of different arrangements facilitate using the system for different sized infants or as the infant grows. In Figure 8B, the supports 1 are fastened together via the fastening strips 3. The connecting strip 7 runs under the armpits and around the back of the baby. The supports 1 are positioned against the lateral or front area of the infant to prevent the child from rolling over. Thus, this invention may advantageously be used for different sized infants or in different configurations as the infant grows.

[0055] FIGS. 8C and 8D depict the infant being constrained on his side. While FIG. 8E depicts the infant lying on his stomach. The position shown in FIG. 8E may be used when an adult is afraid that the infant is sick and may regurgitate food. FIG. 8F shows the system as being used to aid an adult in changing the diaper of the infant.

[0056] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a baby shown in a sitting position. In this embodiment the child is positioned with the fastening strip 7 passing under its armpits and across its chest. The supports 1 are against the spine of the infant. Ends of the supports act as a base that helps to steady the infant.

[0057] It is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the exact construction illustrated and described above, but that various changes and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention as defined in the following claims.