Title:
Absorbent device and method for training toddlers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The method and apparatus of the present invention provides a disposable toilet training device for a toddler, which comprises an absorbent matting placed in proximity to a base of the toilet. The absorbent matting comprises positioning indicia, where the indicia provides position guidance for positioning of the toddler relative to the toilet.



Inventors:
Amorin, Teresa (San Juan, PR, US)
Application Number:
10/821716
Publication Date:
10/13/2005
Filing Date:
04/09/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G27/02; A47K10/16; A47K17/00; G09B19/00; (IPC1-7): A47K1/00; E03C1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TERESA AMORIN (SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, MX)
Claims:
1. A disposable toilet training device for a toddler using a toilet, comprising: an absorbent matting adapted for being placed in proximity to a base of the toilet, the absorbent matting comprising positioning indicia, the indicia providing guidance for positioning of the toddler relative to the toilet.

2. The device according to claim 1, wherein the absorbent matting comprises a cut-away region along one side for abutting the toilet base.

3. The device according to claim 1, wherein the absorbent matting comprises a contact surface for securing the absorbent matting to a floor area located in proximity to the toilet base, and preventing the matting from slipping.

4. The device according to claim 1, wherein the absorbent matting comprises a wetness indicator for exhibiting a detectable indication in response to being contacted with moisture.

5. The device according to claim 2, wherein the cut-away region further comprises an adhesive collar for adhering the periphery of the cut-away region to the toilet base for creating a seal therebetween, and preventing the matting from slipping.

6. The device according to claim 1, wherein the positioning indicia are footprint-shaped for encouraging the toddler to stand on during urination.

7. The device according to claim 4, wherein the wetness indicator provides the toddler with an indication of a lack of complete success when urinating in the toilet.

8. The device according to claim 1, wherein the absorbent matting comprises a plurality of layers.

9. The device according to claim 2, wherein the cut-away region is shaped to conform the periphery of a base of the toilet to which it abuts.

10. The device according to claim 4, wherein the detectable indication comprises a change in color.

11. The device according to claim 10, wherein at least a portion of the matting is treated with a substance that undergoes a color change upon hydration, the color change forming the detectable indication.

12. The device according to claim 1, wherein the detectable indication comprises a material for detecting an acid condition of the urine upon its contact with the absorbent matting.

13. The device according to claim 1, wherein the absorbent matting comprises a shape complementary to an intended area of coverage.

14. A method for training a toddler to urinate into a toilet, the toilet having an orifice and a base, the method comprising the steps of: (a) placing a disposable liquid-absorbent matting in proximity to the toilet base, wherein the liquid absorbent matting absorbs liquid spills and exhibits a perceptible indication in response to absorption of liquid spills resulting from the toddler inadvertently urinating other than into the toilet orifice; (b) instructing the toddler to stand on the liquid absorbent matting so that the toddler is suitably positioned with respect to the toilet; and (c) communicating to the toddler the relationship between the perceptible indication on the liquid absorbent matting and urinating other than into the toilet orifice, so that the toddler is encouraged to urinate only into the toilet orifice.

15. The method according to claim 14, wherein the liquid absorbent matting comprises footprint indicia positioned on either side of the matting and oriented toward the toilet when the matting is engaged for use with respect to the toilet, whereby the toddler, when instructed to stand on the matting, is instructed to stand on the footprints in order to be suitably positioned with respect to the toilet.

16. The method according to claim 14, further comprising the step of: (d) replacing the liquid absorbent matting when the perceptible indication on the liquid absorbent matting indicates a urine-soiled condition.

17. The method according to claim 16, wherein the toddler is praised when the frequency of replacing the matting is diminished with repeated use.

18. The method according to claim 14, wherein the perceptible indication comprises a change in color.

19. The method according to claim 14, wherein the perceptible indication comprises an olfactory indication.

20. The method according to claim 14, further comprising the step of: (d) the toddler communicating the exhibited perceptible indication on the liquid absorbent matting to at least one of the group consisting of a parent and a guardian.

21. The method according to claim 14, wherein the perceptible indication on the liquid absorbent matting indicates a urine-soiled condition.

22. The method according to claim 14, wherein the perceptible indication, when activated, comprises an olfactory indication.

23. The method according to claim 14, wherein the disposable liquid-absorbent matting comprises a shape complementary to an intended area of coverage.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates in general to absorbent devices and in particular to absorbent devices for toilet-related use and for methods of using such devices.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Toilet training of toddlers, particularly the training of male toddlers to urinate in a conventional toilet, inevitably involves repeated “misfire”episodes. These typically involve wetting the exterior or base of the toilet, the floor surrounding the toilet, and whatever covers the floor in the vicinity of the base of the toilet, if anything. If a cloth or pile toilet mat or rug is used near the base of the toilet, it will become saturated to a greater or lesser degree, requiring its careful transport, segregation and laundering if hygiene is to be maintained and a malodorous condition avoided. If no such cloth toilet mat or rug is used, on the other hand, the spill may fail to be contained and may spread across the otherwise non-absorptive flooring, so that an extensive area may need to be mopped and sanitized. If the floor is carpeted, which is sometimes the case, the carpet may need to be removed altogether or otherwise laundered in situ, neither of which is a welcome prospect to the toddler's adult care-taker.

Under these circumstances, the repercussions of a toddler's urinary misfire may spark tension that, in turn, may spawn toddler angst having a deleterious effect on the training process. Existing toilet mats not only exacerbate this state of affairs because of their vulnerability to soiling due to misfires and the inconvenience of dealing with such condition, but they also fail to provide any affirmative cue, feedback or other signal that could aid in the toddler's training.

An unmet need therefore exists for a means of contending with toddler's urinary misfires during their toilet training, and the spills they lead to, including a means for rendering such spills detectable and for conveniently responding to them. Moreover, there is an unmet need for a mechanism for engendering a propitious training atmosphere, as well as a signaling mechanism to speed the training process.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The present invention addresses, at least in part, the long felt, but previously unmet needs described above. In particular, the present invention provides a disposable toilet training device for a toddler using a toilet. The disposable toilet training device comprises an absorbent matting adapted for being placed in proximity to a base of the toilet, the absorbent matting comprising positioning indicia that provide guidance for positioning of the toddler relative to the toilet.

Another aspect of the present invention provides a method for training a toddler to urinate into a toilet, where the toilet has an orifice and a base. The method comprises the steps of placing a disposable liquid-absorbent matting in proximity to the toilet base, whereby the liquid absorbent matting absorbs liquid spills and exhibits a perceptible indication in response to absorption of liquid spills which result from the toddler inadvertently urinating other than into the orifice. The toddler is instructed to stand on the liquid absorbent matting so that the toddler is suitably positioned with respect to the toilet. It is then communicated to the toddler the relationship between the perceptible indication on the liquid absorbent matting and urinating other than into the toilet orifice, so that the toddler is encouraged to urinate only into the toilet orifice.

An object of the present invention is to provide a disposable matting for protecting a toilet floor from urine spills.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a disposable matting that visually indicates the area of urine spills on the matting, and when the matting should be replaced.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a disposable matting that encourages younger males to adopt an improved toilet etiquette, reducing the instances of misfires leading to undesirable spills.

Many other objects and advantages will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in this field upon reading the following description and claims in connection with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a side perspective exploded view of a disposable absorbent toilet mat, in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a top and front view of a disposable absorbent toilet mat including footprint indicia, in use, in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates the use of a wetness indicator, and of footprint indicia within the disposable absorbent toilet mat, in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates the relative dimensions in an embodiment of a disposable absorbent toilet mat according to the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flow chart for use of the disposable absorbent toilet mat for training toddlers, positioned for use, in an embodiment of an aspect of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 presents a side perspective exploded view of a disposable absorbent toilet mat in an embodiment of an aspect of the present invention. In the illustrated embodiment, but without limitation, mat 10 comprises multiple layers and has a thickness of approximately 0.125 (⅛″) of an inch, as indicated at 12. Top layer 14 is of a porous material capable of passing liquid spills through to deeper layers of the mat 1 0. In one embodiment, such passage occurs via micro holes (not shown). This passage of spills to a deeper layer enhances hygiene by allowing a user to stand on the mat without coming into contact with the spilled liquid. Layer 14 permits the spilled liquid to pass through to transition layer 16, which is located directly below top layer 14. Thus, spilled liquid that is received via the micro holes (not shown) in layer 14, is transferred to an absorbent layer 18 via transition layer 16. At absorbent layer 18, the spilled liquid is absorbed in order to confine the spilled liquid to that layer and avoid the liquid from coming into contact with either the floor area under the matting, or the top layer 14 on which the user of the mat 10 may stand. Buffer layer 20, isolates the absorbent layer 18 holding the spilled liquid, from floor contact layer 22, which provides a non-slip surface 24 for ensuring that mat 10 does not slip on the bathroom floor. Top layer 14 also includes an adhesive collar 26 having an adhesive surface 28, which creates a seal between the base of a toilet and collar 26. The utility of the adhesive collar 26 will be further described in relation to FIG. 2.

Generally, the disposable absorbent toilet mat is made from any material intended to be used until soiled, that is, a small number of time, or ever a single time, single-use or otherwise disposable, as distinguished from a mat or rug of fabric that wouldn't ordinarily be intended to be used only once or a small number of times until soiled. The absorbent material of the disposable absorbent toilet mat may comprise any known material such as those incorporated in diapers, feminine pads or panty liners, or other such articles that absorb moisture away from a top surface that initially comes in contact with the top surface and that most preferably contain a spill. Typically, the layers utilized in disposable absorbent materials may comprise a liquid permeable top layer for passing liquid spills, a liquid absorbent layer for absorbing the liquid, and a liquid impermeable bottom layer for confining the spilled liquid. The liquid absorbent layer may also comprise one or more chemical reagents that can change color when they come into contact with the liquid. The reagents many also exhibit a change in coloration in response to a substance within the liquid.

Other numbers, arrangements and thicknesses of layers in the mat 10, as known or may become known in the art, are also contemplated by, and fall within the scope of, the present invention. However, the material, or materials are, in accordance with an aspect of the present invention, most preferably disposable materials, as opposed to durable fabric and rubber material used in those toilet mats that are known in the art for repeated, indefinite use.

The positioning of mat 10 in relation to a toilet 30, in an embodiment of an aspect of the present invention, is shown in FIG. 2. Mat 10 has a cut-away region 32 along an edge 34, where the cut-away region 32 abuts toilet base 36. As shown in the figure, the adhesive surface 28 (FIG. 1) of collar 26 adheres the periphery of cut-away region 30 to the bottom region of toilet base 36, thus, creating a seal between the toilet base 36 and the cut-away region 32. In this manner, the seal provides additional stability for keeping the mat 10 in position, and therefore prevents the mat from slipping on the floor surface. It also provides additional protection from urine spills that may occur in areas that are in relatively close proximity to the toilet base 34.

The mat 10 may be of any desired shape. For example, mat 10 may be square, rectangular, or other multi-sided shape, oval or round. Also, depending on the location, orientation, and design of the toilet, mat 10 may not have a cut-away region. For example, some toilet units such as urinals may not have a base that is in contact with the floor. Accordingly, the shape of the mat 10 may be conformed for such use. The mat 10 may, for example, have straight sides instead of a cut-away region on one side. In this case, one of the sides of the mat abuts the wall to which one or more urinals is attached and may cover the floor under one or a plurality of urinals. Similarly, some toilet units are attached to the vertical walls, rather than being connected to the floor by means of a toilet base, such as toilet base 36 shown in FIG. 1. In this case, as with the urinal, mat 10 may not comprise a cut away region but may still be provided with adhesive strips. In terms of aligning and positioning the mat 10 with the toilet, the toilet base may be referred to as both an actual base, such as toilet base 36, or the area or region underneath the toilet bowl structure for toilet units not having an actual base (i.e., toilet units designed for attachment to a vertical wall). Other toilet units may include children's potties or generally any device designed to accommodate both children and/or adults in the act of releasing bodily fluids.

Mat 10 also includes optional footprint-shaped indicia 38 for encouraging a male user to stand on during urination. The indicia 38 are provided in order to suggest an appropriate stance during use. Any other indicia, such as advertising, or none at all, can be used.

In an embodiment of one aspect of the invention, indicia 38 (whether in the shape of a toddler's footprint or another configuration) may incorporate a visually enhancing material (e.g., phosphorescent, or fluorescent products), which glows in the dark or otherwise exhibits a luminous or reflective effect. This will serve as a means of attracting the toddler's attention to the existence of the indicia 38. Indicia having luminous effects are useful when the mating is being used in a darkened room.

Mat 10 comprises, in one embodiment, a wetness indicator. The mat 10 may be treated with a substance that undergoes a change in color when it is contacted with a liquid. For example, a hydra-table salt mixture may be applied to a liquid permeable layer such as top layer 14 and/or transition layer 16, whereby when the layer comes into contact with a liquid, a visible color change can be visually perceived by the user. Also, chemical reagents, which exhibit a change in coloration upon contact with a liquid as known in the art, may be applied to a layer of the mat 10, such as absorbent layer 18, without limitation. As illustrated in FIG. 3, when a urine spill passes through a treated layer (e.g., layer 14), a color change is visually detected, as indicated by wetness indications 40. In this manner, based on-the detected wetness indications 40 e.g., caused by urine spills, it can be determined whether or not the mat 10 should be disposed of, and replaced. In addition to a wetness indicator that provides a visually detectable wetness indication 40 on contact with a liquid (e.g., urine), an olfactory indication may also be provided to enhance urine detection. By incorporating an olfactory indicator into mat 10, a particular scent may be released when the mat comes into contact with liquid.

The wetness indicator is a reactant layer that exhibits a characteristic change in response to coming in contact with urine and/or other liquids that are spilled on the matting. For example, if a urine spill were to occur, the absorbent matting would not merely change color (i.e., yellow) as a result of urine staining, the wetness indicator would react to the urine and generate a detectable change (e.g., color, smell, etc.) Various types of coatings or materials that are known in the art for exhibiting a color change upon hydration can be used. Materials or substances that react to the chemical content of urine may also be incorporated in the matting, according to an aspect of the present invention, not only to provide a visual indication of a urine spill, but also to detect certain characteristics of the urine. For example, a care-giver or parent of a toddler or child suffering from dehydration or other conditions susceptible to detection by a component of the wetness indicator (e.g., diabetes or kidney ailments), may be alerted to the existence of the toddler's condition by the mat.

As shown in FIG. 3, both the wetness indications 40 and the footprint indicia 38 are used to encourage and train the toddler to try and urinate in the orifice of the toilet 30 (FIG. 2). The significance of the wetness indications 40 are shown to the toddler, so that the toddler is motivated to avoid misfires or otherwise creating urine spills that lead to the wetness indications 40. Furthermore, the toddler is encouraged to stand on the footprint indicia 38 in order to improve his chances of success. If the toddler avoids creating wetness indications 40, he is rewarded, and if he is unsuccessful in his attempts, and still manages to urinate on the mat 10, he can nevertheless be progressively encouraged by pointing a reduction in wetness indications 40 each time he uses the toilet.

FIG. 4 illustrates the approximate dimensions of an embodiment of disposable absorbent toilet mat 10 according to the present invention. These dimensions may vary, or be scaled depending on the type or size of toilet 30, or the space the toilet 30 may occupy, or other factors, without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flow chart for a method of use of the disposable absorbent toilet mat 10 as a means for toilet training a toddler, in an embodiment of an aspect of the present invention. At step 42, a disposable absorbent toilet mat having a wetness indicator is placed around the periphery of a toilet base. At optional step 44, the toddler is instructed to stand on footprint indicia located on the mat. At step 46, it is determined whether the toddler is standing on the indicia and is therefore positioned correctly. If the toddler is not positioned correctly, the toddler is reminded to stand on the indicia, as indicated at step 44. Steps 44 and 46 are continued until the toddler is correctly positioned and understands the significance of standing on the indicia. If the toddler is correctly positioned, following the use of the toilet, at step 48, it is determined whether or not the toddler has urinated on the mat. If the toddler has urinated on the mat, at step 50 the toddler is shown the wetness indications on the mat and informed of the significance between the created wetness indications and urinating on the mat. Once the toddler is informed of the relationship between urinating on the mat and the wetness indications, at step 52 the toddler is encouraged to avoid or reduce the level of wetness indications on the mat. If at step 48, it is determined that the toddler has not urinated on the mat following the use of the toilet, at step 54 the toddler may be rewarded for such success and further encouraged, as indicated at step 52, to continue to avoid generating wetness indications on the mat.

In addition to the embodiments of the aspects of the present invention described above, and with respect to the appended figures, those of skill in the art will be able to arrive at a variety of other arrangements and steps which, if not explicitly described in this document, nevertheless embody the principles of the invention and fall within the scope of the appended claims. For example, the ordering of method steps is not necessarily fixed, but may be capable of being modified without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention.