Title:
Rocking infant carrier
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rocking infant carrier includes a seat portion for holding an infant, and oppositely disposed curved rails, that contact the ground surface. A panel is movably mounted to the carrier between the oppositely disposed rails. A mechanism for moving the panel, for rocking the carrier, is in the space between the rails and the panel. Rocking occurs as the panel is moved between retracted and extended positions, while the carrier remains in its initial location (position) during the entire time of rocking. Additionally, the rocking is such that it will normally lull an infant to a relaxed state, whereby they fall asleep.



Inventors:
Babcock, Diane (Lee's Summit, MO, US)
Babcock, David (Lee's Summit, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/126966
Publication Date:
12/01/2005
Filing Date:
05/11/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C1/08; A47D9/02; A47D13/02; (IPC1-7): A47C1/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDELL, JOSEPH F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC (KANSAS CITY, MO, US)
Claims:
1. An infant carrier comprising: a body including a portion configured for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface; a panel movably mounted to the body, the panel positioned proximate to the curved portion of the body; and, a movement mechanism at least partially within the body, the movement mechanism in communication with the panel for moving the panel between a retracted position with respect to the body, and an extended position with respect to the body, for rocking the body on the surface.

2. The infant carrier of claim 1, wherein the movement mechanism comprises: a motor unit; and, a shaft, the shaft in communication with the panel and in communication with the motor unit, the shaft moveable by the motor unit.

3. The infant carrier of claim 1, additionally comprising: an axle extending through the panel and into the body for movably mounting the panel to the body.

4. The infant carrier of claim 1, wherein the panel includes a curved portion.

5. The infant carrier of claim 1, wherein the panel includes at least one wheel.

6. The infant carrier of claim 2, wherein the motor unit includes: a motor; and a cam, the cam in communication with the motor, and, movably coupled to the shaft, the cam for translating rotational motion from the motor to the shaft for moving the panel.

7. The infant carrier of claim 6, wherein the cam is attached to the shaft at a location off of the center of the cam.

8. The infant carrier of claim 2, wherein the motor unit includes: a motor including a gearbox; and a crank operative coupled to the gearbox, the crank movably coupled to the shaft, the crank for translating rotational motion from the motor to the shaft for moving the panel.

9. A rocking apparatus for placement at least partially into a partially open space in an infant carrier, the infant carrier including at least one ground contacting portion, comprising: a panel movably mounted to the infant carrier, the panel positioned proximate to ground contacting portion of the infant carrier; and, a movement mechanism, the movement mechanism in communication with the panel for moving the panel between a retracted position with respect to the open space in the infant carrier, and an extended position with respect to the open space in the infant carrier, for rocking the infant carrier along the at least one ground contacting portion.

10. The rocking apparatus of claim 9, wherein the movement mechanism comprises: a motor unit; and, a shaft, the shaft in communication with the panel and in communication with the motor unit, the shaft moveable by the motor unit.

11. The rocking apparatus of claim 9, additionally comprising: an axle extending through the panel and configured for receipt in the infant carrier, for movably mounting the panel to the infant carrier.

12. The rocking apparatus of claim 9, wherein the panel includes a curved portion.

13. The rocking apparatus of claim 9, wherein the panel includes at least one wheel.

14. The rocking apparatus of claim 10, wherein the motor unit includes: a motor; and a cam, the cam in communication with the motor, and, movably coupled to the shaft, the cam for translating rotational motion from the motor to the shaft for moving the panel.

15. The rocking apparatus of claim 14, wherein the cam is attached to the shaft at a location off of the center of the cam.

16. The rocking apparatus of claim 10, wherein the motor unit includes: a motor including a gearbox; and a crank operative coupled to the gearbox, the crank movably coupled to the shaft, the crank for translating rotational motion from the motor to the shaft for moving the panel.

17. A rocking apparatus for placement at least partially into a partially open space in an infant carrier, the infant carrier including at least one ground contacting portion, comprising: a movement mechanism; and, a ground contacting member coupled to the movement mechanism, such that movement of the ground contacting member by the movement member causes the infant carrier to rock along the at least one ground contacting portion.

18. The rocking apparatus of claim 17, wherein the movement mechanism includes a motor, and the ground contacting member includes a rod, the rod including a first end and a second end, the first end of the rod in moveable communication with the motor.

19. The rocking apparatus of claim 18, wherein the second end includes a rounded portion.

20. The rocking apparatus of claim 18, wherein the second end includes a wheel.

21. An infant carrier comprising: a body including a portion configured for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface; a movement mechanism; and, a ground contacting member coupled to the movement mechanism, such that movement of the ground contacting member by the movement member causes the body to rock along the curved portion.

22. The infant carrier of claim 21, wherein the movement mechanism includes a motor, and the ground contacting member includes a rod, the rod including a first end and a second end, the first end of the rod in moveable communication with the motor.

23. The infant carrier of claim 21, wherein the second end includes a rounded portion.

24. The infant carrier of claim 21, wherein the second end includes a wheel.

25. A method for rocking an infant comprising: providing an infant carrier comprising: a body including a portion configured for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface; a panel movably mounted to the body, the panel positioned proximate to the curved portion of the body; and, a movement mechanism at least partially within the body, the movement mechanism in communication with the panel for moving the panel between a retracted position with respect to the body, and an extended position with respect to the body, for rocking the body on the surface; providing an infant to the portion of the body configured for holding an infant; and, activating the movement mechanism for rocking the body on the surface.

26. A method for rocking an infant comprising: providing an infant carrier comprising: a body including a portion configured for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface; a movement mechanism; and, a ground contacting member coupled to the movement mechanism, such that movement of the ground contacting member by the movement member causes the body to rock along the curved portion; providing an infant to the portion of the body configured for holding an infant; and, activating the movement mechanism for rocking the body on the surface.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application is related to and claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/570,530, entitled: Rocking Infant Carrier, filed, May 12, 2004. U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/570,530 is incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to infant carriers or seats. In particular, the present invention is directed to a rocking infant carrier.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Infant safety car seats or infant carriers are designed to be portable, to and from a vehicle such as an automobile or the like. A contemporary exemplary infant safety car seat or infant carrier is shown in FIG. 1. This infant carrier 20 is formed of a body 22, that in a typical orientation includes a seat portion 24, whose front side 26, is configured for holding an infant. The body 22 also includes a ground contacting portion 28, for contacting the ground.

The body 22 is such that in a typical orientation, the infant's head and upper body are positioned in the seat portion 24, at an elevation above the feet. The body 22 is designed to receive a seat belt, such that the infant can be in the infant carrier while in a car or other moving vehicle. The seat portion 24 is typically of a shape that conforms to the shape of an infant or baby, and the infant typically fits snugly therein.

The infant carrier 20 typically includes a handle 30, from which the infant carrier 20 is carried. The body 22, at its ground contacting portion 28, typically includes rails or side members 32, 33, with an open area or cavity 36, between the rear 38 of the seat portion 24, and the rails 32, 33. The rails 32, 33, are continuous with the sides of the ground contacting portion 28, and as such typically define a curvature, extending along both sides of the carrier 20. A cover typically is fitted over the seat portion 24 of the body 22 of the infant carrier 20.

The infant carrier 20 is designed to be removed from the vehicle, by being disconnected from the seat belt, base and/or other retaining structure. As a result, the infant is carried to the new location in the same infant carrier. This is advantageous, for the infant, who may be sleeping, is not disrupted by being transferred to a different seat or carrier upon leaving the vehicle. Moreover, while the infant is in the carrier in the vehicle, the motion of the vehicle as it travels typically lulls the infant to sleep.

However, when the infant carrier 20, with the infant therein, is removed from the vehicle, the infant may wake up. Upon waking up, the infant can sense that they are no longer in motion, and they typically become agitated. To calm the infant, a parent or other person attending to the infant typically rocks the infant carrier manually, to typically lull the infant to sleep.

Rocking infants (babies) to sleep with rhythmic motion relaxes them. Infants crave movement after birth, because motion is the norm to them. Being still disconcerts infants, as they are very sensitive to outside stimulus, and easily awaken when still.

Once the infant (baby) falls asleep, they enter an active sleep state (also called light sleep or Rapid Eye Movement sleep). After about 20-30 minutes of active sleep, the infant enters a deep sleep state. Rocking the infant typically lulls the infant to sleep, such that they reach the deep sleep state.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention improves on the contemporary art by providing an apparatus for automatically rocking an infant. The apparatus is typically portable. The apparatus includes an infant carrier, with a seat portion for holding an infant, the carrier including oppositely disposed curved rails, that contact the ground surface. A panel is movably mounted to the carrier between the oppositely disposed rails. A mechanism for moving the panel, for rocking the carrier, is in the space between the rails and the panel. Rocking occurs as the panel is moved between retracted and extended positions, while the carrier remains in its initial location (position) during the entire time of rocking. Additionally, the rocking is such that it will normally lull an infant to a relaxed state, whereby they fall asleep.

An embodiment of the invention is directed to an infant carrier. The carrier includes a body, including a portion configured for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface, and a panel. The panel is movably mounted to the body, and the panel is positioned proximate to the curved portion of the body. There is also a movement mechanism at least partially within the body, the movement mechanism operatively connected with the panel for moving the panel between a retracted position with respect to the body, and an extended position with respect to the body, for rocking the body on the surface.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a rocking apparatus for placement at least partially into a partially open space in an infant carrier. The infant carrier includes at least one ground contacting portion. The rocking apparatus includes, a panel movably mounted to the infant carrier, the panel positioned proximate to ground contacting portion of the infant carrier; and, a movement mechanism. The movement mechanism is operatively connected to the panel for moving the panel between a retracted position with respect to the open space in the infant carrier, and an extended position with respect to the open space in the infant carrier, for rocking the infant carrier along the at least one ground contacting portion.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a rocking apparatus for placement at least partially into a partially open space in an infant carrier, the infant carrier including at least one ground contacting portion. The rocking apparatus includes, a movement mechanism, and, a ground contacting member coupled to the movement mechanism, such that movement of the ground contacting member by the movement member causes the infant carrier to rock along the at least one ground contacting portion.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to an infant carrier. The infant carrier includes, a body including a portion for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface, a movement mechanism, and, a ground contacting member. The ground contacting member is coupled to the movement mechanism, such that movement of the ground contacting member by the movement member causes the body to rock along the curved portion.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a method for rocking an infant. The method includes providing an infant carrier. The infant carrier includes, a body including a portion configured for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface, a panel movably mounted to the body, the panel positioned proximate to the curved portion of the body, and, a movement mechanism at least partially within the body, the movement mechanism for moving the panel between a retracted position with respect to the body, and an extended position with respect to the body, for rocking the body on the surface. An infant is provided to the carrier, typically by placing an infant, into the portion of the body configured for holding an infant, movement mechanism is activated, for rocking the body on the surface.

Another embodiment of the invention is also directed to a method for rocking an infant. The method includes providing an infant carrier. The infant carrier includes, a body including a portion configured for holding an infant, and a curved portion for contacting a surface, a movement mechanism, and, a ground contacting member coupled to the movement mechanism, such that movement of the ground contacting member by the movement member causes the body to rock along the curved portion. An infant is provided to the carrier, typically by placing an infant, into the portion of the body configured for holding an infant, movement mechanism is activated, for rocking the body on the surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Attention is now directed to the drawing figures, where like numerals or characters indicate corresponding or like components. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional infant carrier;

FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view of the apparatus in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portion of the rotation mechanism of the apparatus of FIG. 2;

FIGS. 4A-4D are side views of the apparatus detailing an exemplary operation;

FIGS. 5A and 5B are partially broken-away side views of an apparatus in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are rear perspective views of the apparatus in the positions of FIGS. 5A and 5B, respectively, showing the rocking mechanisms and the positions of the components therein;

FIG. 7 is a partial broken-away side view of an apparatus in accordance with a third embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 8A and 8B are partially broken-away side views of an apparatus in accordance with a fourth embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 8C is a rear perspective view of the apparatus, in the position of FIG. 8A, in accordance with a fourth embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 2 and 3 show an apparatus 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The apparatus 100 includes an infant carrier 20, for example, infant carrier 20, as detailed above and shown in FIG. 1, with identical and/or similar components having the same numbers as those on the infant carrier 20.

Throughout this document, references are made to the directions, up, down, upward, downward, front, rear, frontward, rearward, and other directional references are made. These directional references are made for exemplary purposes, to describe the embodiments of the invention in typical orientations, and the embodiments of the invention are not limited by these directional references.

The infant carrier 20, as stated above, typically includes a seat portion 24, within the body 22 of the infant carrier 20. The seat portion 24 is typically covered by a cover 102 (FIG. 4A), elastically fitted over the edges of the body 22 of the apparatus 100. A rocking mechanism 110, for rocking the infant carrier 20, is housed, at least partially within the cavity 36 of the body 22.

The apparatus 100 includes a carrying handle 30 (FIGS. 4A-4D), that is moveable in a rotating manner. The body 22 includes curved rails 32, 33 for contacting the ground surface GS (FIGS. 4A-4D), that are continuous along the sides of the body 22, to define a curvature extending from the front end 40 of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100 to the rear end 41 of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100. The curvature allows the infant carrier 20 to rock back and forth, along the ground surface GS (FIGS. 4A-4D).

The rocking mechanism 110 includes a motor 112, that is coupled to a shaft 114, that is in turn coupled to a panel 116. The panel 116 is typically movably mounted to the body 22 of the carrier 20, and is shaped to typically cover at least a portion of the cavity 36.

The motor 112 moves the shaft 114, that moves the panel 116, between positions where the panel 116 extends beyond the arc defined by the curvature of the rails 32, 33 (an extended position), and retracts to a point at least coincident to, and typically within the arc (a retracted position), in order to cause the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100 to rock back and forth. The motor 112 is typically powered by a power source 120, typically of one or more batteries, either single use or rechargeable (inside or outside of the apparatus 100), and the motor 112 is typically turned on and off by a switch 122. The motor 112 is typically controlled by a variable controller (MC) 124.

The motor 112 is attached to the rear side 38 of the seat portion 24 in the cavity 36 of the rear end 41 of the apparatus 100. The attachment of the motor 112 to the rear side 38 of the seat portion 24 is typically by clamps or other mechanical fasteners, such that the motor 112 is typically mounted transversely in the apparatus 100. This transverse mounting of the motor 112 allows rotation of the motor 112 to be in alignment with the rocking motion of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100.

A stub 130 extends from the motor 112, with an end of the stub 130 attaching to a cam 132. The cam 132 is typically in the shape of a circular disk. The motor 112 can rotate the stub 130 (and therefore, the cam 132), either unidirectionally, or bidirectionally, depending on the motor selected. For example, the cam 132 rotates in the same direction as the motor 112 and shaft 130, in the direction of the arrow 136 (FIG. 3). The cam 132 includes an opening (not shown) that aligns with an opening 137 on the shaft 114, at a first end 114a, to receive a pin 138, facilitating a moveable attachment between the shaft 114 and the cam 132. The pin 138 is typically close to the periphery of the cam 132, offset from the center on the cam 132. The second end 114b of the shaft 114, opposite the first end 114a, includes a joint 140, that is typically pivotally mounted to the end 114b of the shaft 114. The joint 140 attaches to the panel 116, by mechanical fasteners, adhesives, or combinations thereof.

The variable controller (MC) 124 is such that it can reduce or increase the speed of rotation of the motor 112. Typically, the controller (MC) 124 is used to slow down the rocking action. This controller (MC) 124 is controlled by a knob 125, located on an external surface of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100. This controller (MC) 124 is turned on and off by the switch 122, with rocking speed controlled by moving the knob 125. The controller (MC) 124 is typically designed to begin the rocking motion at a slower rotational speed, and then build up to the desired speed, for example, of one rotation per second. The controller (MC) 124 may also control (by the user turning the knob 125), the direction of rotation of the motor 112.

The motor 112 is, for example, a DC motor, with sufficient torque to exert approximately 12 pounds of force pushing down on the panel 116. This is sufficient force for offsetting the infant's or baby's weight, such that the carrier 20 rocks back and forth in the same location, without advancing forward or rearward (from the initial position or location). The motor 112, alone, or with either or both of the stub 130 and/or the cam 132, typically form a motor unit.

The panel 116 typically hides the motor 112, shaft 114, cam 132 and the stub 130. The panel 116 is attached at one of its ends to the body 22 of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100 by an axle 142 that extends through openings 143a in the side walls 143 of the panel 116 and into the body 22 of the carrier 20. This axial attachment allows the panel 116 to be pivotally or rotationally mounted to the carrier body 22. The width of the panel 116 is such that the panel 116 fits between the rails 32, 33.

The panel 116 is typically a tray-like member, with a sheet like portion 146, intermediate the side walls 143. The sheet like portion 146 is shaped to conform with the contour of the rails 32, 33, as its outer side 144, is typically curved convexly along a first portion 116a, proximate to the rails 32, 33. The panel 116 has an inner side (not shown) that is typically concave. This shape allows the panel 116 to protrude from and return to within the cavity 36, always staying between the rails 32, 33, by essentially sliding parallel to the rails 32, 33. The panel 116 may have a second portion 116b of at least its outer side 144, of a second curvature, to provide additional cover to the rocking mechanism 110 of the apparatus 100. The panel 116 is typically formed by a single piece, but may be formed of multiple pieces with multiple curvatures.

The panel 116 is, for example, of a hard resilient plastic, such as polyethylene, and the like, that provides for sliding along a ground surface. The panel 116 is typically made by conventional plastic forming techniques, such as injection or rotational molding.

The apparatus 100 also includes a rechargeable battery or other similar power source, as the power source 120. A removable charging cord (not shown) (attachable to an electrical outlet or the like) can be attached to the power source 120, that, for example, allows charging of the battery overnight with enough charge for daily use (for example, approximately ten hours).

Turning to FIGS. 4A-4D, an exemplary operation of the apparatus 100, in a typical rocking cycle, is shown with the apparatus 100 in typical positions, resting on the ground surface GS. The apparatus 100 can be such that the panel 116 moves between an inward or retracted position where the panel 116 remains inward of the rails 32, 33, and an outward or extended position, where the panel 116 is outside and beyond the rails 32, 33 and all positions in-between. When rocking of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100 is desired, the rocking mechanism 110, and in particular, the motor 112, is activated.

Once activated, the panel 116 is pushed by the motion of the motor 112 and shaft 114 outwardly and downwardly, so that when the motor 112 is operating, the shaft 114 pushes this panel 116 outward, beyond the rails 32, 33, to the outward or extended position, for example, the maximum outward or extended position, as shown in FIG. 4A. This outward movement of the panel 116 rocks the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100 forward, as the rails 32, 33 at the front end 40 of the carrier 20 have moved toward the ground surface GS. The continued revolution of the cam 132 (in the direction of the arrow 136) pulls the shaft 114, such that the panel 116 begins to retract, moving toward the body 22 of the apparatus 100, as shown in FIG. 4B. In FIG. 4B, the edges of the ground contacting portion 28 formed by the rails 32, 33 at the rear end 41 of the carrier move toward the ground surface GS, while the rails 32, 33 at the front end 40 of the carrier 20 move upward.

The cam 132 continues its rotation (as rotated by the motor 112), retracting the panel 116, to a fully retracted position inside of the rails 32, 33, as shown in FIG. 4C. This complete retraction of the panel, to inside of the curvature of the rails 32, 33, coupled with gravity, places the rails 32, 33, at their rearward portions (proximate to the panel 116), again into contact with the ground surface GS (and the rails 32, 33 at the front end 40 of the carrier 20 move upward), whereby the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100 rocks back in a rearward direction. With the action of the motor 112, rotating the disk 132 being continuous, the panel 116 is again pushed outward moving the baby and the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100 in an upward direction, with the panel 116 again in a partially extended position, as shown in FIG. 4D. In FIG. 4D, the edges of the rails 32, 33 at the rear end 41 move out of contact with the ground surface (GS), while the rails 32, 33 at the front end 40 of the apparatus 100 move downward, toward the ground surface GS.

This motion cycle occurs approximately sixty times a minute. The apparatus 100 returns to its original position, therefore, completing a cycle, approximately once every second. The rotation speed of the motor shaft 130 is approximately sixty revolutions per minute, compared to the approximate speed of normally manually rocking an infant (baby) in a carrier.

In an alternate embodiment of the apparatus 100, the panel 116 can be removed, and the joint 140 can be replaced with, or terminate at a rotatable wheel, or a ball-like tip. All other aspects of this alternate embodiment would be similar to the apparatus 100.

FIGS. 5A, 5B, 6A and 6B show a second embodiment of a rocking infant carrier apparatus 200. This embodiment utilizes, for example, the infant carrier 20 detailed above, and shown in FIG. 1. FIGS. 5A and 6A (in FIG. 6A, the material 219 has been removed) show the apparatus 200 in a position, where the panel 216 is in the inward or retracted position, while FIGS. 5B and 6B (in FIG. 6B, the material 219 has been removed), show the apparatus 200 in an outward or extended position, where the panel 216 is extended beyond the periphery of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 200. The panel 216 is such that it moves between these retracted and extended, and all positions therebetween, in order to facilitate rocking of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 200.

The apparatus 200 is similar to the apparatus 100 detailed above, except for the rocking mechanism 210, including the panel 216. In the rocking mechanism 210, the motor 212 includes a gear box (not shown), for driving a crank 213, typically “Z” shaped, that connects to a shaft 214. The motor 212, alone, or with components such as the crank 213, typically define a motor unit. The panel 216 functions similarly to the panel 116, that when coupled to the motor 212, typically through the crank 213 and shaft 214, moves the panel 216 to rock the carrier portion 20 of the apparatus 200. However, in the apparatus 200, the panel 216 is shaped different from the panel 116 (of the apparatus 100). The apparatus 200 may also include a variable controller and controlling knob, associated with the motor 212, similar to that used with the motor 112 and the apparatus 100 detailed above.

In the rocking mechanism 210 for the apparatus 200, the motor 212 mounts to the rear side 38 of the seat portion 24, typically longitudinally. Mounting of the motor 212 to the rear side 38 of the seat portion is typically by mechanical fasteners, such as screws, brackets, and the like. The motor 212 includes a gearbox (not shown), that attaches to and turns (rotates) a crank 213, either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the gearing of the motor 212. The crank 213 is received in the shaft 214 in an opening or slot 215. The shaft 214 is typically two pieces 217, 218, but may be a single piece or three or more pieces. These pieces 217, 218 are typically joined by a member or fastener 218a, that maintains the pieces 217, 218 in a fixed relationship with respect to each other. The second piece 218 is attached to the panel 216, at a moveable joint 218b (similar to the joint 140 described above and shown in FIG. 3) by mechanical fasteners, adhesives, or combinations thereof.

The motor 212 and shaft 214 typically fit within the cavity 36 of the body 22, and the panel 216, at the rear end 41 of the apparatus 200. There is typically a piece of material 219, such as cloth or fabric reinforced paper or the like, between the panel 216 and the body 22, to cover the cavity 36 between the panel 216 and the body 22. The material 219 is typically folded, so as to be accordion-like or has slack, to allow for expansion, that occurs when the panel 216 moves away from the body 22 during rocking, as the apparatus 200 moves toward the extended position (FIGS. 5B and 6B).

The panel 216 includes a heel portion 230 and a toe portion 232. The heel portion 230 extends beyond and remains outside of the carrier 20 during operation (rocking) of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 200. The toe portion 232 is movably attached to the body 22 of the carrier 20, by an axle 234, that extends through the panel 216 (through openings 236, 237 in the sidewalls 238, 239 of the panel 216) and into the body 22 of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 200. This attachment allows for the panel 216 to move pivotally (rotationally) with respect to the body 22 of the carrier 20. The toe portion 232 is typically attached to the body 22, such that it remains within the periphery of the curvature of the rails 32, 33.

The heel portion 230 typically is formed by a linear segment 230a and a curved segment 230b. The arrangement of these segments 230a, 230b, allows the apparatus 200 to be used on surfaces, such as carpet and the like, allowing sliding of the panel 216 without pulling up or getting caught in the carpet. Additionally, when rocking of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 200 is desired, the panel 216, moves between fully retracted (FIGS. 5A and 6A) and fully extended positions (FIGS. 5B and 6B), and all positions therebetween.

When rocking of the apparatus 200 is desired, the switch 240 (similar to the switch 122, described above), is activated or turned on, activating the motor 212. The motor 212 rotates the crank 213, that pulls the shaft 214. Specifically, the shaft 214 is pulled such that its pieces 217, 218 move between a fully retracted position, as shown in FIGS. 5A and 6A, and a fully extended position, as shown in FIGS. 5B and 6B, and all positions therebetween, to cause the carrier 20 of the apparatus 200 to rock back and forth along its curvature (the edges defined by the edges of the rails 32, 33 at the front 40 and rear 41 ends of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 200).

In FIG. 7, another apparatus 100′, similar in construction and operation to the apparatus 100 (described above, and shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 4A-4D), is shown. This apparatus 100′ is similar in all aspects to the apparatus 100, except that it lacks a moveable panel, and the motor 112 is coupled to a gear 302. The gear 302 (having a peripheral surface 302a) is meshed with a cam 304, having a correspondingly configured peripheral surface 304a. The cam 304 is attached to a shaft 306, in a moveable attachment by a pin 308, that extends through aligned openings (not shown) in the cam 304 and the shaft 306 (similar to the pin 138) detailed above. The shaft 306 extends through an opening 309 in a cover 310, that covers the cavity 36 of the apparatus 100′, at least partially, and the shaft 306 terminates in a wheel 312, axially mounted to it. The wheel 312 is such that when the apparatus 100′ is rocking, the apparatus 100′ will remain in its initial location.

FIGS. 8A-8C show an apparatus 200′, similar in construction and operation to the apparatus 200, as detailed above and shown in FIGS. 5A, 5B, 6A and 6B. This apparatus 200′ is similar in all aspects to the apparatus 200, except that it includes a wheel 402, typically centrally mounted to the panel 216. The wheel 402 is typically rotatably mounted at the heel portion 230, along the linear segment 230a. Mounting of the wheel 402 is such that the wheel 402 extends slightly beyond the panel 216, to contact the ground surface (GS), while the panel 216 remains clear of the ground surface (GS), when the panel 216 of the apparatus 200′ is in the fully retracted position (FIG. 8A), when the panel 216 of the apparatus 200′ is in the fully extended position (FIG. 8B), and all positions therebetween.

While a single wheel 402 is shown, multiple wheels are also permissible, as are one or more rollers or the like. When multiple wheels or rollers are used, they are typically mounted symmetrically on the panel 216.

In exemplary operations of the aforementioned apparatus 100, 200, 100′, 200′ and alternate embodiments thereto, the apparatus 100, 200, 100′ and 200′ is placed onto the ground surface, with the infant therein, or the infant is placed into the portion 24 of the carrier 20 of the apparatus 100, 200, 100′, 200′. The motor 112, 212 is activated, typically by turning on the respective switch 122, 240 and the respective apparatus 100, 200, 100′, 200′ rocks back and forth along the curved rails 32, 33 at the bottom portion 28 of the body 22. Rocking speed can be controlled by turning the knob 125 to adjust the controller (MC) 124. When rocking has lulled the infant to sleep, it can be terminated by deactivating (turning off) the respective switch 122, 240, such that rocking of the respective apparatus 100, 200, 100′, 200′ stops.

There have been shown and described preferred embodiments of a rocking infant carrier. It is apparent to those skilled in the art, however, that many changes, variations, modifications, and other uses and applications for the apparatus and its components are possible, and also such changes, variations, modifications, and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention, which is limited only by the claims which follow.