Title:
Lock channel clip for a crib safety net
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides a device for securing a safety net to a crib having at least one wall with a top bar. The device includes an elongated member having an outer surface and an inner surface and further includes an open channel defined along the inner surface and adapted to be coupled to the top bar of the wall. A connecting member is coupled to the outer surface of the elongated member and is adapted to be coupled with an edge of the safety net to secure the safety net to the crib.



Inventors:
Johnson, Mark A. (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/100650
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
04/07/2005
Assignee:
Akro Tool Co. (Cincinnati, OH, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/93.1
International Classes:
A47D7/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080235867Sliding device for playpenOctober, 2008Chen
20080155755Mattress for bed with step deck and bed therewithJuly, 2008Crousore et al.
20090049602System and Method For Raising and Lowering a BedFebruary, 2009Gudenkauf
20020029421Viscous liquid cushionsMarch, 2002Sereboff
20070220673CLOTHING ARTICLES HAVING RAISED PROJECTIONSSeptember, 2007Nichols
20090078690FIBER REINFORCED HEATING UNIT AND MATTRESS WITH THEREOFMarch, 2009Lee et al.
20100071128APPARATUS FOR MOUNTING AN ANATOMICAL POSITIONER ON A PATIENT CARE PLATFORMMarch, 2010Campagna et al.
20090094742BODY TRANSFER SYSTEM AND METHODApril, 2009Mcnulty
20050155155Sofa bedJuly, 2005Kassai et al.
20040255387Split support mattress configuration with hidden dividerDecember, 2004England
20060191073Nursing care bed with wheel chair facilityAugust, 2006Honda



Primary Examiner:
LIU, JONATHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOOD, HERRON & EVANS, LLP (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for securing a safety net to a crib having at least one wall with a top bar, the safety net having an edge, the device comprising: an elongated member having an outer surface and an inner surface, said elongated member including an open channel defined along said inner surface and adapted to be coupled with the top bar of the wall; and a connecting member coupled to said outer surface of said elongated member and adapted to be coupled with the edge of the safety net.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said elongated member comprises: a base portion; and two opposed leg portions extending from said base portion, wherein said base portion and said leg portions collectively define said open channel.

3. The device of claim 2 wherein said connecting member is coupled to one of said leg portions of said elongated member.

4. The device of claim 2 wherein said leg portions are acutely angled with respect to said base portion and converge toward one another.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein said channel is adapted to be coupled with the top bar of the wall through a frictional fit.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein said elongated member includes a barb on said inner surface adapted to engage the top bar and secure said device to the crib.

7. The device of claim 1 wherein said connecting member includes a cavity having an opening, and said device further comprising: a retaining rod adapted to be coupled with the edge of the safety net and further adapted to be received through said opening and into said cavity by a snap-fit connection.

8. An assembly for a crib having at least one wall with a top bar, the assembly comprising: a safety net adapted to line a surface of the wall and having an edge; and a clip for securing said safety net to the crib, said clip comprising: an elongated member having an outer surface and an inner surface, said elongated member including an open channel defined along said inner surface and adapted to be coupled with the top bar of the wall; and a connecting member coupled to said outer surface of said elongated member and adapted to be coupled with said edge of said safety net.

9. The assembly of claim 8 wherein said elongated member comprises: a base portion; and two opposed leg portions extending from said base portion, wherein said base portion and said leg portions collectively define said open channel.

10. The assembly of claim 9 wherein said connecting member is coupled to one of said leg portions of said elongated member.

11. The assembly of claim 9 wherein said leg portions are acutely angled with respect to said base portion and converge toward one another.

12. The assembly of claim 8 wherein said channel is adapted to be coupled with the top bar of the wall through a frictional fit.

13. The assembly of claim 8 wherein said elongated member includes a barb on said inner surface adapted to engage the top bar and secure said device to the crib.

14. The assembly of claim 8 wherein said connecting member includes a cavity having an opening, and said device further comprising: a retaining rod adapted to be coupled with said edge of said safety net and further adapted to be received through said opening and into said cavity by a snap-fit connection.

15. A device for defining a space for a child to play or sleep, comprising: a crib having a wall defining at least a portion of the space, said wall having a top bar; a safety net adapted to line a surface of said wall and having an edge; and a clip for securing said safety net to said crib, said clip comprising: an elongated member having an outer surface and an inner surface, said elongated member including an open channel defined along said inner surface and adapted to be coupled with said top bar of said wall; and a connecting member coupled to said outer surface of said elongated member and adapted to be coupled with said edge of said safety net.

16. The device of claim 15 wherein said elongated member comprises: a base portion; and two opposed leg portions extending from said base portion, wherein said base portion and said leg portions collectively define said open channel.

17. The device of claim 16 wherein said connecting member is coupled to one of said leg portions of said elongated member.

18. The device of claim 16 wherein said leg portions are acutely angled with respect to said base portion and converge toward one another.

19. The device of claim 15 wherein said channel is adapted to be coupled with said top bar of said wall through a frictional fit.

20. The device of claim 15 wherein said connecting member includes a cavity having an opening, and said device further comprising: a retaining rod adapted to be coupled with said edge of said safety net and further adapted to be received through said opening and into said cavity by a snap-fit connection.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains generally to cribs, and more particularly to a clip for mounting a crib safety net.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Cribs are frequently used to retain a child for relatively long periods of time while the child is either sleeping or awake and playing. In this regard, cribs are often used to minimize the amount of direct supervision a parent or guardian needs to give to a child by limiting the freedom of movement of the child. Thus, it is essential that during these times of limited supervision, potential dangers be minimized without impairing access of the parent or guardian to the child, should it be needed.

Cribs are often constructed in a box-like fashion with opposed solid headboards and footboards, opposed side walls, and a solid bottom support. Cribs typically have an open top for quickly and conveniently accessing the child in the crib. A snug fitting mattress is typically placed on top of the bottom support and provides a soft, comfortable surface on which the child might play or sleep. The side walls are not solid and are generally made up of top and bottom horizontal bars interconnected by an array of spaced apart vertical rails or slats that provide air flow and further allow the child to be seen through the side walls of the crib. The spacing between the rails is such to prevent the child from pushing through the rails. The rails, however, are sufficiently spaced apart to allow a child's hand or leg to pass through the openings thus creating various safety issues.

For instance, frequently babies and toddlers while sleeping or playing in their cribs intentionally or accidentally extend their limbs out of the crib between the rails and have difficulty drawing them back into the crib. If this occurs when the child is sleeping, the extended limbs will remain uncovered and become cold, and the child will ultimately awaken thereby interrupting the quality of their sleep and that of the parents or guardian. Moreover, when the limbs are extended outside of the crib, the movement of the child is restricted which may lead to injury or other harm, such as fracture. There are many recorded instances of injury to a child by becoming wedged or stuck between the side wall rails.

There have been several approaches to prevent a child from extending his/her limbs outside the crib. One such approach, for example, is to use a liner-like device that closes off the openings between the rails of the side walls. This approach, however, has some drawbacks. For instance, some of the liners are solid pieces of material and therefore do not permit air flow through the crib or allow the infant to be seen through the side walls. Other liners provide a netting or mesh material with openings that are smaller than the opening in the side wall rails but still permit a child's limb to extend therethrough. Moreover, the liners are connected to the crib in a number of ways, such as with metal fasteners, hook and loop type fasteners, or traditional ties. These connection methods, however, are time consuming to install and must be continually checked to ensure that they do not come untied or otherwise loosened from the crib. Additionally, many of these fasteners are secured to the crib at discrete positions along the side walls. This type of connection creates gaps along the top of the liner where a child can extend his/her arm down between the liner and side wall thus creating additional safety issues.

There is thus a need for an improved connector that connects a safety net to a crib in an easy, convenient manner that overcomes many of the drawbacks of previous crib liners.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a device for securing a safety net to a crib having at least one wall with a top bar. The device comprises an elongated member having an outer surface and an inner surface and further includes an open channel defined along the inner surface, which is adapted to be coupled to the top bar of the wall. A connecting member is coupled to the outer surface of the elongated member and is adapted to be coupled with an edge of the safety net so as to secure the safety net to the crib.

In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the device is configured as a clip wherein the elongated member includes a base portion and two opposed leg portions extending from the base portion so as to define the open channel. The leg portions are acutely angled with respect to the base portion and converge toward one another so that the elongated member may be coupled to the top bar through a frictional fit. The inner surface of the elongated member may further include a barb adapted to engage the top bar to secure the device to the crib. The connecting member may be coupled to the elongated member along the outer surface of one of the leg portions so that when the elongated member is coupled to the top bar of the wall, the connecting member faces the interior of the crib. In the exemplary embodiment, the connecting member is integrally formed with the elongated member, such as through a molding process. To couple the safety net with the device, the connecting member may include a cavity having an opening for accessing the cavity. The device may further include a retaining rod, which is adapted to be coupled with the edge of the safety net. The retaining rod is further adapted to be received through the opening and into the cavity of the connecting member by a snap-fit connection.

In another exemplary embodiment of the invention, an assembly is provided for a crib having at least one wall with a top bar. The assembly includes a safety net adapted to line a surface of the wall and includes an edge. The assembly further includes a clip for securing the safety net to the crib. The clip includes an elongated member having an outer surface and an inner surface and further includes an open channel defined along the inner surface, which is adapted to be coupled to the top bar of the wall. The elongated member includes a base portion and two opposed leg portions extending from the base portion so as to define the open channel. A connecting member is coupled to the outer surface of the elongated member and is adapted to be coupled with the edge of the safety net.

In yet another exemplary embodiment of the invention, a device is provided for defining a space for a child to play or sleep. The device includes a crib having a wall having a top bar and defining at least a portion of the space. The device further includes a safety net adapted to line a surface of the wall and includes an edge. The device further includes a clip for securing the safety net to the crib. The clip includes an elongated member having an outer surface and an inner surface and further includes an open channel defined along the inner surface, which is adapted to be coupled to the top bar of the wall. The elongated member includes a base portion and two opposed leg portions extending from the base portion so as to define the open channel. A connecting member is coupled to the outer surface of the elongated member and is adapted to be coupled with the edge of the safety net.

The features and objectives of the present invention will become more readily apparent from the following Detailed Description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with a general description of the invention given above, and the detailed description given below, serve to explain the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a crib having a clip and safety net in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2A is a disassembled perspective cross-sectional view of the crib, clip and safety net of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 2B is an assembled perspective cross-sectional view of the crib, clip and safety net of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

With reference to FIG. 1, a crib, generally shown at 10, includes a bottom support 12, a headboard 14, a footboard 16, and a pair of opposed side walls 18 that collective define a box-like structure for defining a space for a child to play or sleep. Each of the side walls 18 includes a top bar 20 and a bottom bar 22 extending between the headboard 14 and footboard 16. The top bar 20 and bottom bar 22 are interconnected by a plurality of spaced-apart rails 24. This construction advantageously permits air flow through the crib and further allows a parent or guarding to view a child in the crib from a distance. Crib 10 also generally includes a mattress 26 positioned on bottom support 12 to provide a comfortable surface for the child. As is known in the art, the bottom support 12 of crib 10 is typically raised off the floor by legs 28. As is also known in the art, one or both side walls 18 may slide or retract in the vertical direction to provide easy access to crib 10. Furthermore, while headboard 14 and footboard 16 are shown as solid walls, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that headboard 14 and footboard 16 may also have a slatted construction like side walls 18 and be within the scope of the invention.

Because the rails 24 of the side walls 18 are sufficiently spaced apart, a child in crib 10 my extend his/her limbs through side walls 18. To prevent this from occurring, the crib 10 includes a safety net 30. Safety net 30 generally includes a bottom panel that overlies bottom support 12 and is juxtaposed between bottom support 12 and mattress 26, and two side panels 34 that line the interior or inner surface of side walls 18. The bottom panel and side panels 34 may be one continuous piece of material or may be separate panels that are coupled together, such as by sewing, to form a unitary safety net structure. The unitary structure is particularly advantageous to prevent a child from pulling the safety net up along the bottom edge of the side walls 18 and thus circumventing the safety net feature. Each side panel 34 may be made from a mesh-type netting operative to reduce the likelihood of a child in crib 10 from extending his/her limbs through the rails 24 of side walls 18. Advantageously, however, the netting does not eliminate the benefits of air flow through the crib 10 or prevent a parent or guardian from observing the child in the crib 10. Thus the safety net 30 retains the benefits of slatted side walls 18 yet prevents injury and other undesirable effects sometimes associated with the slatted construction.

It is desirable to couple the safety net 30 with crib 10 in a quick and convenient manner while also providing an attachment that can withstand any intentional or inadvertent pulling by the child. To this end, and as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the invention provides a clip, generally shown at 38, for coupling the safety net 30 to crib 10. As clip 38 will be described for one of the side walls 18, it should be recognized that the same description also applies to the clip 38 on the opposite side wall 18. Clip 38 includes an elongated member 40 having an outer surface 42 and an inner surface 44. The clip 38 has a generally U-shaped configuration with a base portion 46 and two opposed leg portions 48 extending from base portion 46 to define an open channel 50 along the inner surface 44. The channel 50 is adapted to receive therein top bar 20 of side wall 18 when elongated member 40 is coupled to the crib 10. In an exemplary embodiment, base portion 46 has a width of approximately 1 inch and leg portions 48 extend away from the base portion 46 for a distance of approximately 0.55 inches. The base and leg portions 46, 48, respectively, have a thickness of approximately 0.1 inches. The elongated member 40 preferably has a length that is substantially equal to the length of the side wall 18. In this way, the clip 38 is coupled to crib 10 along the entire length of side wall 18. The invention, however, is not so limited as other dimensions and lengths of elongated member 40 may be used depending on the particular application.

The leg portions 48 of elongated member 40 are angled inwardly with respect to base portion 46 so as to form acute angles 52 therebetween. The angled or tapered configuration allows the elongated member 40 to slidably engage top bar 20 and be secured thereto by a frictional fit. To further secure the clip 38 to crib 10, the inner surface 44 of elongated member 40 may include at least one barb 54, such as along leg portions 48. The barbs 54 are adapted to engage an edge of top bar 20 thereby preventing the elongated member from unintentionally moving outward and away from top bar 20. The edge may be created by the lower portions of a cap (not shown) that is sometimes placed on the top, exposed surface of top bar 20. The edge may further be defined between the side and bottom surfaces of top bar 20, as shown in FIG. 2B. In the exemplary embodiment, the leg portions 48 are angled inwardly so that angles 52 are approximately 73 degrees and the width of the opening of channel 50 is approximately 0.8 inches. Moreover, the barbs 54 preferably extend the length of elongated member 40. The invention, however, is not so limited other taper angles as well as other lengths of barbs 54 may be used depending on the particular application.

While the mattress 26 secures the safety net 30 from below, each side panel 34 of safety net 30 includes an upper edge 56 that must be coupled to clip 38 so as to couple safety net 30 with crib 10. To this end, clip 38 further includes a connecting member 58 coupled to the outer surface 42 of elongated member 40. In the exemplary embodiment, the connecting member 58 is preferably located on one of the leg portions 48 of elongated member 40. Furthermore, the connecting member 58 is configured so that when elongated member 40 is coupled to top bar 20, connecting member 58 faces the interior of the crib 10 such that connecting member 58 is adjacent the inner surface of side wall 18, as shown in FIG. 1. In this way, the upper edge 56 of side panel 34 does not extend over the top bar 20 and outside of crib 10. Those of ordinary skill in the art should recognize, however, that the connecting member 58 may be located outside of crib 10 and still be within the scope of the invention. In the exemplary embodiment, the connecting member 58 extends along the entire length of elongated member 40. In this way, the safety net 30 is coupled to the clip 38 along the entire length of the side wall 18. The invention, however, is not so limited as other lengths of connecting member 58 may be used.

As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the connection between the upper edge 56 of side panel 34 and connecting member 58 may be accomplished through a snap-fit type of connection. To this end, the upper edge 56 may be configured as a closed loop 60. A retaining rod 62 may then be inserted into loop 60 through openings along the lateral edges of side panels 34. Moreover, the connecting member 58 includes a cavity 66 having an opening 68 for accessing cavity 66. Opening 68 may be accessed without going through channel 50. In this way, for instance, the safety net 30 may be coupled to the clip 38 after the clip 38 has been coupled to top bar 20. The invention is not so limited as the safety net 30 may be coupled to clip 38 prior to coupling the clip 38 to top bar 20. The cavity 66 has a generally cylindrical shape and defines a diameter that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the retaining rod 62. Moreover, the opening 68 has a width that is also smaller than a diameter of the retaining rod 62. In this way, the retaining rod 62 may be inserted into opening 68 and a sufficient force applied thereto to elastically deform opening 68 and allow retaining rod 62 to snap into cavity 66. The connecting member 58 may be slightly elastically deformed when the retaining rod 62 is positioned in cavity 66 to provide a tight fit between the retaining rod 62 and connecting member 58. In the exemplary embodiment, cavity 66 has a diameter of approximately 0.22 inches and opening 68 sweeps through an angle of approximately 60 degrees with respect to the center of cavity 66.

The snap-fit connection provides for a quick and convenient connection between the upper edge 56 of the safety net 30 and the clip 38 yet provides a secure connection that cannot be easily pulled out. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize other ways to couple retaining rod 62 with connecting member 58 within the scope of the present invention. For instance, instead of a snap-fit connection as described above, the connecting member can be nearly closed, i.e., a small-width opening, with a substantially cylindrical cavity or bore therein. The retaining rod is then coupled to the safety net and then slid into the connecting member through a lateral edge opening. In this case, the diameter of the retaining rod is slightly smaller than the diameter of the cavity so that the rod can slidingly engage the connecting member. Furthermore in this case, the safety net must be coupled to the clip prior to securing the clip to the crib.

In the exemplary embodiment, the elongated member 40 and connecting member 58 may be made from a suitable plastic material, such as from a suitable thermoset or thermoplastic polymer, including for example polypropylene. Advantageously, the connecting member 58 is integrally coupled with the elongated member 40 during manufacturing, such as through a suitable molding process, to form a one-piece clip 38. The retaining rod 62 may also be made from a suitable plastic material. Moreover, side panels 34 may include one or more traditional ties, such as cloth ties, for further securing side panels 34 to crib 10. For instance, the lateral edges may include tradition ties for securing the side panels 34 to the legs 26 or to one of the rails 24.

While the present invention has been illustrated by the description of the various embodiments thereof, and while the embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not intended to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art. For example, if the headboard 14 and footboard 16 had a slatted construction, the safety net could include two opposed end panels (not shown) that line the inside of the headboard and footboard 14, 16 in the same way as side panels 34 line the insides of side walls 18. A clip may then be provided for the headboard and footboard in the same manner as described above. The invention in its broader aspects is therefore not limited to the specific details, representative apparatus and methods and illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the scope or spirit of Applicant's general inventive concept.