Title:
Modular support pillow assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A support pillow assembly that has particular utility for nursing mothers includes a support platform that is adapted to bear against and conform to a user's anterior torso, a back support member that is adapted to bear against and conform to a user's posterior torso and releasable securing structure for firmly securing the support platform and the back support member about the user's torso. A washable pillow is removably secured to an upper surface of the support platform by attachment structure such as a zipper. The pillow may be used to support an infant either when it is attached to the support platform or on its own when it is disattached from the support platform. Both the support platform and the back support member are preferably constructed so as to be well-ventilated for the comfort of the user.



Inventors:
Dunn, Steven B. (Beverly Hills, CA, US)
Hatherill, Mark (Manhattan Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/135059
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
05/23/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/652.1
International Classes:
A47G9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE PATENTWISE GROUP, LLC (Wallingford, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A support pillow assembly, comprising: a support platform; securing means for securing said support platform to a user's torso; and a removable pillow member releasably attached to said support platform.

2. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said support platform is fabricated from a resiliently compressible material.

3. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said securing means comprises a back support member that is adapted to contact a posterior portion of a user's torso.

4. A support pillow assembly according to claim 3, wherein said back support member is fabricated from a resiliently compressible material.

5. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said support platform is adapted to contact an anterior portion of a user's torso, and wherein said securing means is adapted to fit about the periphery of the user's torso so as to secure said support platform to the torso of the user.

6. A support pillow assembly according to claim 5, wherein said securing means is releasable.

7. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said removable pillow member is fabricated from materials that will not be damaged by washing.

8. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said removable pillow member comprises a fabric cover material and a resiliently compressible fill material.

9. A support pillow assembly according to claim 8, wherein said fabric cover material is air permeable, thereby minimizing suffocation risks to infants and small children.

10. A support pillow assembly according to claim 8, wherein said resiliently compressible fill material is air permeable, thereby minimizing suffocation risks to infants and small children.

11. A support pillow assembly according to claim 8, wherein said resiliently compressible fill material comprises a fibrous fill material.

12. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, further comprising releasable attachment means for releasably attaching said removable pillow to said support platform.

13. A support pillow assembly according to claim 12, wherein said releasable attachment means comprises a zipper.

14. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said support platform has a recess defined in an upper surface thereof for receiving said removable pillow member.

15. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said support platform comprises ventilation structure for permitting air to flow through said support platform.

16. A support pillow assembly according to claim 3, wherein said back support member comprises ventilation structure for permitting air to flow through said back support member.

17. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, further comprising a storage space defined on said support platform for storing small articles.

18. A support pillow assembly according to claim 17, wherein said support platform comprises a fabric outer cover, and wherein said storage space comprises at least one pocket defined in said outer cover.

19. A support pillow assembly according to claim 1, wherein said removable pillow member is crescent shaped.

20. A support pillow assembly according to claim 14, wherein said recess is crescent shaped.

21. A support pillow assembly, comprising: a support platform that is adapted to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso; a back support member that is adapted to bear against a posterior portion of the user's torso; releasable securing means for securing said support platform and said back support member firmly about the torso of a user; and a removable pillow member releasably attached to an upper surface of said support platform.

22. A support pillow assembly according to claim 21, wherein said removable pillow member is fabricated from materials that will not be damaged by washing.

23. A support pillow assembly according to claim 21, wherein said removable pillow member comprises a fabric cover material and a resiliently compressible fill material.

24. A support pillow assembly according to claim 23, wherein said fabric cover material is air permeable, thereby minimizing suffocation risks to infants and small children.

25. A support pillow assembly according to claim 23, wherein said resiliently compressible fill material is air permeable, thereby minimizing suffocation risks to infants and small children.

26. A support pillow assembly according to claim 21, further comprising releasable attachment means for releasably attaching said removable pillow to said support platform.

27. A support pillow assembly according to claim 26, wherein said releasable attachment means comprises a zipper.

28. A support pillow assembly according to claim 21, wherein said support platform has a recess defined in said upper surface for receiving said removable pillow member.

29. A support pillow assembly according to claim 21, wherein said support platform comprises ventilation structure for permitting air to flow through said support platform.

30. A support pillow assembly according to claim 21, wherein said back support member comprises ventilation structure for permitting air to flow through said back support member.

31. A replacement pillow for a support pillow assembly, comprising: a fabric cover, said fabric cover defining an interior space and being fabricated from an air permeable material; resiliently compressible fill material positioned in said interior space, said resiliently compressible fill material being air permeable; and releasable attaching means for releasably attaching said replacement pillow to a support platform of a support pillow assembly that is adapted to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso.

32. A replacement pillow according to claim 31, wherein said releasable attaching means comprises a zipper.

33. A replacement pillow according to claim 31, wherein said fabric cover and said resiliently compressible fill material are fabricated from materials that will not be damaged by washing.

34. A replacement pillow according to claim 31, wherein said resiliently compressible fill material comprises a fibrous fill material.

35. A replacement pillow according to claim 31, wherein said replacement pillow is crescent shaped.

36. A support pillow assembly, comprising: a support platform that is adapted to bear against a frontal portion of a user's torso; a back support member that is adapted to bear against a posterior portion of the user's torso; releasable securing means for securing said support platform and said back support member firmly about the torso of a user; and ventilating means for permitting air circulation through at least one of said support platform and said back support member.

37. A support pillow assembly according to claim 36, wherein said ventilating means is configured to permit air circulation through said support platform.

38. A support pillow assembly according to claim 37, wherein said ventilating means is configured to permit air circulation from a top surface of said support platform to a bottom surface of said support platform.

39. A support pillow assembly according to claim 38, wherein said ventilating means comprises a plurality of ventilation holes extending from said top surface of said support platform to said bottom surface of said support platform.

40. A support pillow assembly according to claim 39, wherein said support platform comprises a resilient elastomeric foam material, and wherein said ventilation holes are defined in said foam material.

41. A support pillow assembly according to claim 36, wherein said ventilating means is configured to permit air circulation through said back support member.

42. A support pillow assembly according to claim 41, wherein said ventilating means comprises a plurality of ventilation holes extending from a front surface of said back support member to a rear surface of said back support member.

43. A support pillow assembly according to claim 42, wherein said back support member comprises a resilient elastomeric foam material, and wherein said ventilation holes are defined in said foam material.

44. A support pillow assembly according to claim 43, wherein said front surface of said back support member further comprises a cover, and wherein said cover is fabricated from an air permeable mesh material.

45. A support pillow assembly according to claim 37, wherein said ventilating means is further configured to permit air circulation through said back support member.

46. A method of using a support pillow assembly of the type that includes a support platform that is adapted to be secured so as to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso and a removable pillow member that is releasably attachable to the support platform, comprising steps of: disattaching a first pillow member from the support platform of the support pillow assembly; and attaching a second, replacement pillow member to said support platform.

47. A method of using a support pillow assembly of the type that includes a support platform that is adapted to be secured so as to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso and a removable pillow member that is releasably attachable to the support platform, comprising steps of: disattaching the pillow member from the support platform of the support pillow assembly; washing the pillow member; and reattaching the pillow member to the support platform.

48. A method of using a support pillow assembly of the type that includes a support platform that is adapted to be secured so as to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso and a removable pillow member that is releasably attachable to the support platform, comprising steps of: disattaching the pillow member from the support platform of the support pillow assembly; using the pillow member separately from the support platform to support an infant or small child; and reattaching the pillow member to the support platform.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates broadly to the field of infant care products, and more particularly to support pillows that are adapted to fit about a caregiver's torso so that the caregiver may comfortably and conveniently support an infant.

2. Description of the Related Technology

Feeding an infant, whether by breast or by bottle, requires that the caregiver gently support the infant, usually at the caregiver's stomach or waist level, regardless of whether the caregiver is standing or sitting. Infants, and particularly younger infants, feed several times a day, and it is important that both the infant and the caregiver are comfortable during feedings. A caregiver frequently has to handle various implements and feeding system components before, during and after the feeding process. It is desirable to have a way to organize and hold such implements while the infant is being comforted, rocked and fed.

A variety of nursing support pillows have been proposed and commercialized with the goal of improving the comfort and convenience of the feeding process. U.S. Pat. No. 5,581,833 to Zenoff discloses a support pillow having a lumbar support for use in nursing and other applications that is securable about a caregiver's torso. U.S. Pat. No. 6,412,128 to Matthews also discloses a nursing support pillow that fits about the anterior torso of a caregiver.

While such designs were an improvement over their predecessors, they also created certain issues of convenience and comfort for the caregiver. As parents and caregivers well know, infant feeding while emotionally rewarding to both caregiver and child is an inherently messy process. Milk or formula often gets spilled during feeding, and infants often regurgitate what they have been fed. Not surprisingly, conventional nursing support pillows tend to quickly soil, which presents a considerable problem because they are difficult to clean. Most commercially available nursing support pillows are too bulky to fit in a washing machine. In addition, most nursing support pillows are not fabricated from materials that can be washed without damage. The caregiver is left with the option of wiping the support pillow clean after feedings, which does not effectively remove stains and bacteria from the surfaces of the support pillow that will be in contact with the infant. Eventually, the caregiver is faced with having to decide between purchasing a new support pillow, continuing to use a soiled, unsanitary support pillow or using a blanket or towel to prevent the infants head from touching the soiled surfaces of the support pillow.

Because conventional support pillows are designed to fit firmly about the torso of the user, their extended use can create a feeling of discomfort where they contact the user's body, particularly in warm, humid environments.

A need exists for an improved support pillow system for use both in nursing and for other purposes that is more comfortable and more hygienic than conventional nursing support pillows.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide an improved support pillow system for use both in nursing and for other purposes that is more comfortable and more hygienic than conventional nursing support pillows.

In order to achieve the above and other objects of the invention, a support pillow assembly according to a first aspect of the invention includes a support platform; securing structure for securing the support platform to a user's torso; and a removable pillow member releasably attached to the support platform.

A support pillow assembly according to a second aspect of the invention includes a support platform that is adapted to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso; a back support member that is adapted to bear against a posterior portion of the user's torso; releasable securing structure for securing the support platform and the back support member firmly about the torso of a user; and a removable pillow member releasably attached to an upper surface of the support platform.

According to a third aspect of the invention, a replacement pillow for a support pillow assembly includes a fabric cover, the fabric cover defining an interior space and being fabricated from an air permeable material; resiliently compressible fill material positioned in the interior space, the resiliently compressible fill material being air permeable; and releasable attaching structure for releasably attaching the replacement pillow to a support platform of a support pillow assembly that is adapted to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso.

A support pillow assembly according to a fourth aspect of the invention includes a support platform that is adapted to bear against a frontal portion of a user's torso; a back support member that is adapted to bear against a posterior portion of the user's torso; releasable securing structure for securing the support platform and the back support member firmly about the torso of a user; and ventilating structure for permitting air circulation through at least one of the support platform and the back support member.

A method of using a support pillow assembly of the type that includes a support platform that is adapted to be secured so as to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso and a removable pillow member that is releasably attachable to the support platform according to a fifth aspect of the invention includes steps of disattaching a first pillow member from the support platform of the support pillow assembly; and attaching a second, replacement pillow member to the support platform.

According to a sixth aspect of the invention, a method of using a support pillow assembly of the type that includes a support platform that is adapted to be secured so as to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso and a removable pillow member that is releasably attachable to the support platform, includes steps of disattaching the pillow member from the support platform of the support pillow assembly; washing the pillow member; and reattaching the pillow member to the support platform.

A method of using a support pillow assembly of the type that includes a support platform that is adapted to be secured so as to bear against an anterior portion of a user's torso and a removable pillow member that is releasably attachable to the support platform according to a seventh aspect of the invention includes steps of disattaching the pillow member from the support platform of the support pillow assembly; using the pillow member separately from the support platform to support an infant or small child; and reattaching the pillow member to the support platform.

These and various other advantages and features of novelty that characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, its advantages, and the objects obtained by its use, reference should be made to the drawings which form a further part hereof, and to the accompanying descriptive matter, in which there is illustrated and described a preferred embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a support pillow assembly that is constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an internal component of the support pillow assembly that is depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the support pillow assembly shown in FIG. 1, shown in a second operative position;

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatical depiction of the support pillow assembly shown in FIG. 1 being used to support an infant during feeding; and

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatical depiction of a removable pillow member component of the support pillow assembly being used to support an infant independently of the support pillow assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate corresponding structure throughout the views, and referring in particular to FIG. 1, a support pillow assembly 10 that is constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a support platform 12 that is preferably fabricated from a resiliently compressible material and that has an inner surface that is constructed and arranged to conform to and comfortably bear against an anterior portion of the user's torso, such as the user's stomach area or waist. Support pillow assembly 10 further preferably includes a back support member 14 that is adapted to conform to and comfortably bear against a posterior portion of the user's torso, such as the lumbar region of the user's back. Back support member 14 is also preferably fabricated from the resiliently compressible material, as will be discussed in greater detail below.

In the preferred embodiment, support pillow assembly 10 is constructed so that the support platform 12 is unitary with the back support member and a connecting side portion 30, as may be seen in FIG. 1. Releasable securement structure 16 is provided for firmly securing the support platform 12 and the back support member 14 about the user's torso. In the preferred embodiments releasable securement structure 16 includes a first strap 18 that is permanently secured to the back support member 14, a second strap 20 that is permanently secured to the support platform 12 and a quick disconnect coupling 22 for attaching and detaching the first strap 18 to the second strap 20. Quick disconnect coupling 22 includes a male connector element 24 that is adjustably secured to the first strap 18 so as to permit the support pillow assembly 10 to be adjusted to fit the girth of the user and a female connector 26 that is secured to the second strap 20.

According to one particularly advantageous feature of the invention, a removable pillow 28 is releasably attached to an upper surface of the support platform 12. The support platform 12, the side portion 30 and the back support member 14 are all fabricated from the resiliently compressible polymeric foam core 52, as will be described in greater detail below, which is covered with a durable stain resistant fabric material 32, preferably a cotton synthetic blend. Referring to FIG. 3, it will be seen that releasable attachment structure 34 is provided for releasably attaching the removable pillow 28 to the upper surface of the support platform 12. In the preferred embodiment, releasable attachment structure 34 includes a zipper arrangement 36 that is embodied as a first row 38 of zipper teeth secured to the fabric material 32 of the upper surface of the support platform 12 and a second row 40 of zipper teeth that is secured to the external fabric material 50 of the removable pillow 28 on an underside 46 of the removable pillow 28. A zipper slider 42 having a gripping tab 44 is provided for connecting and disconnecting the first row 38 of zipper teeth to the second row 40 of zipper teeth.

The support platform 12 also preferably incorporates a storage space for helping the caregiver store and organize small articles such as bottles, nipples and pacifiers. In the preferred embodiment, the storage space is embodied as a number of pockets 33 that are defined in an outwardly facing surface of the support platform 12 out of the fabric material 32. In an alternative embodiment of the invention, pockets 33 may be lined with a water resistant or waterproof material in order to prevent milk, juice or other liquids from soaking into the fabric material 32 of the support platform 12.

Removable pillow 28 is crescent shaped in the preferred embodiment and is preferably fabricated from materials that can be machine washed without being damaged. It is preferably fabricated from a fabric cover material 50 that is durable and stain resistant. The fabric cover 50 is configured to define an interior space that is filled with a resiliently compressible material that may be machine washed without damage. Preferably, this resiliently compressible material is a hypo-allergenic polymeric fibrous fill material such as a polyester fiber fill material. It is important that both the fabric cover material 50 and the resiliently compressible material within the removable pillow 28 be air permeable so as to minimize the risk of an infant suffocating when having his or her nose and mouth in contact with the removable pillow 28.

The support platform 12, the side portion 30 in the back support member 14 are preferably fabricated from a relatively firm resiliently compressible elastomeric material. In the preferred embodiment, these components are fabricated from a unitary core 52 of polymeric foam material, such as a polyurethane foam. As is best shown in FIG. 2, foam core 52 includes a first portion 54 that serves as a resiliently compressible core for the support platform 12, a second portion 55 that serves as a resiliently compressible core for the side portion and a third portion 56 that serves as a resiliently compressible core for the back support member 14. A crescent shaped recess 58 is defined in an upper portion of the first core portion 54, with an elevated peripheral rim 60 defining a border about the recess, as FIG. 2 shows. The purpose of recess 58 is to provide a concavity in which the removable pillow 28 will seat when it is attached to the support platform 12, as may readily be visualized by viewing FIG. 3.

According to another particularly advantageous feature of the invention, ventilation structure is preferably provided in at least one of the support platform 12 in the back support member 14 in order to enhance user comfort when wearing the support pillow assembly 10. In the preferred embodiment, the ventilation structure is provided in both the support platform 12 and the back support member 14. As FIG. 2 shows, ventilation structure 62 is provided in the core portion 54 of the support platform 12 as a plurality of vertically extending holes 64. Each of the holes 64 preferably extend from a upper surface of the core portion 54 to a bottom surface of the core portion 54. The fabric material 32 covering the foam core 52 is air permeable, meaning that ventilation is permitted to occur vertically through the support platform 12 during use of the support pillow assembly 10. This ventilation diminishes the potential for a potentially uncomfortable sensation of warmth and stickiness on the user's thighs when the support pillow assembly 10 is being used in a seated position.

In addition, ventilation structure 66 is provided in the third core portion 56 as a plurality of holes 68 extending from a forward surface of the back support member 14 to a rearward surface of the back support member 14. This permits ventilation to occur through the back support member 14 in the area of the back support member 14 that is in contact with a user's lumbar region during use of the support pillow assembly 10. In order to further promote ventilation of the back support member in this area, an insert 70 is provided of a mesh material on an inner surface of the back support member 14 facing the user's lumbar region that is even more air permeable than the fabric material 32 covering the rest of the support pillow assembly 10. Preferably, mesh material 70 is fabricated from a cotton synthetic blend. In addition to providing ventilation, by varying the dimension and the density of the ventilation holes 64, 68 in the foam core 52 the firmness of specific areas of the foam core 52 may be adjusted. The ventilation scheme depicted in FIG. 2 also has the beneficial effect of decreasing the firmness of the portion of the back support member 14 that is in contact with the user's lumbar region as well as decreasing the firmness of the portion of the support platform 12 that will be in contact with a user's thighs while in the seated position, while maintaining the firmness of the side portion 30.

The Polyurethane Foam Association defines firmness using the standard of indentation force deflection (IFD), defined at <http://www.pfa.org/jifsg/jifsgs4.html>. Preferably, the support platform 12 and the back support member 14 both have a firmness that is within a IFD range of about 6 to about 30. In the preferred embodiment the support platform 12 and the back support member 14 are fabricated from a common foam core 52 and have similar IFD ratings, depending upon the size and density of the ventilation holes therein. However, alternative embodiments are contemplated wherein the back support member 14 may have a core that is independent from the core of the support platform 12 and that has a base firmness that is substantially different than the firmness of the support platform 12.

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatical depiction of an infant being fed by a caregiver who is using the support pillow assembly 10 in a seated position. The infant is comfortably supported by the upper surface of the removable pillow 28. In the event that the removable pillow 28 becomes soiled, the caregiver will simply detach the removable pillow 28 from the support platform 12 by manipulating the zipper arrangement 36. The removable pillow 28 may then be machine washed, machine dried and reattached to the support platform 12 using the zipper arrangement 36. It is further anticipated that replacement removable pillows 28 will be made available to consumers. There are a number of reasons why a consumer may be motivated to detach a removable pillow 28 from the support platform 12 and replace it with a replacement removable pillow 28. After a prolonged period of time, one of the removable pillows 28 may become soiled, stained or otherwise damaged or degraded to the extent that replacement is necessary. The caregiver may also prefer a replacement pillow 28 that has a different surface texture, a different color, or that has a design on it that the caregiver or the infant may find attractive. For example, a certain fabric texture may be preferred during winter months, while a second, cooler fabric texture may be preferred during summer months.

FIG. 5 diagrammatically depicts a caregiver using the replacement pillow 28 as a stand-alone support for an infant, without the rest of the support pillow assembly 10. This may be convenient while traveling, for example when it is inconvenient to transport the entire support pillow assembly 10.

It is to be understood, however, that even though numerous characteristics and advantages of the present invention have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of the invention, the disclosure is illustrative only, and changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of shape, size and arrangement of parts within the principles of the invention to the full extent indicated by the broad general meaning of the terms in which the appended claims are expressed.