Title:
CONTAINER FOR BABY ITEMS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for baby items includes an outer shell which can be selectively disposed in an open flat condition to be usable as a changing pad and which can be folded upon itself to form a pouch. At least one and preferably at least two inner compartments are detachably mounted to the inner surface of the outer shell for holding various baby items such as diapers and baby wipes when the outer shell is in its pouch condition. The inner compartment could be housed in an inner pouch detachably fastened to the shell by a magnetic clasp.



Inventors:
Longacre, Suzanne (Kennett Square, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/752513
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
05/23/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PERREAULT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz LLP (Wilmington, DE, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container for baby items comprising an outer shell, at least one inner compartment mounted to said outer shell, said outer shell having an extended area on its inner surface to function as a changing pad, and said inner compartment being detachably mounted to said inner surface of said outer shell to selectively expose said extended area when said inner compartment is detached.

2. The container of claim 1 wherein said outer shell is capable of being in a first condition where it is open and flat and its entire inner surface is exposed to function as a changing pad, and is capable of being in a second condition where said outer shell is folded upon itself to form a pouch.

3. The container of claim 2 wherein said inner compartment has a dispensing opening which can be sealed whereby said inner compartment is moisture tight.

4. The container of claim 2 wherein there are a plurality of said inner compartments, and at least one of said inner compartments having a dispensing opening which can be sealed tight so that said at least one inner compartment is moisture tight.

5. The container of claim 2 wherein said inner surface of said outer shell includes fastening structure, and said at least one inner compartment includes complementary fastening structure whereby said inner compartment may be detachably mounted to said inner surface of said outer shell by the selective coupling of said fastening structure and said complementary fastening structure.

6. The container of claim 2 wherein said outer shell includes a flap which is mounted to the outer surface of said outer shell when said outer shell is in said pouch condition.

7. The container of claim 2 wherein there are at least two of said inner compartments, one of said inner compartments containing diapers and the other of said inner compartments containing baby wipes, and each of said at least two inner compartments having a sealable dispensing opening whereby each of said inner compartments may be moisture tight.

8. The container of claim 2 including an inner pouch detachably mounted to said inner surface of said outer shell, and said inner compartment being located in said inner pouch.

9. The container of claim 8 wherein said inner pouch includes at least one pocket on its outer surface.

10. The container of claim 8 wherein said inner pouch includes a plurality of pockets on its outer surface.

11. The container of claim 8 including magnetic fasteners on said inner pouch and said inner surface of said outer shell to comprise said detachable mounting of said inner pouch to said outer shell.

12. The container of claim 11 wherein said magnetic fasteners are magnetic clasps which are detachably mounted together magnetically and by snap connection.

13. The container of claim 8 including at least one handle mounted to an edge of said inner shell to facilitate the carrying of said container when said outer shell is in said folded second condition.

14. The container of claim 13 wherein said handle is detachably mounted to a transverse edge of said outer shell.

15. The container of claim 13 wherein a handle is mounted to each of the transverse edges of said outer shell.

16. The container of claim 8 wherein said inner compartment has a dispensing opening which can be sealed whereby said inner compartment is moisture tight.

17. The container of claim 8 wherein said outer shell and said inner pouch are made of a washable fabric.

18. The container of claim 8 wherein said inner compartment is located in said inner pouch without attachment to said inner pouch.

19. The container of claim 2 wherein said inner surface of said outer shell includes fasteners and said fasteners being magnetic clasps which are detachably mounted together magnetically and by snap connection.

20. The container of claim 2 including at least one handle mounted to a transverse edge of said outer shell to facilitate the carrying of said container when said outer shell is in its folded second condition.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is based upon provisional application Ser. No. 60/808,038 filed May 24, 2006, all of the details of which are incorporated herein by reference thereto.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There is a need to provide containers for various baby items, such as diapers and baby wipes. The conventional approach is to carry such items in some type of bag which, however, could be bulky or cumbersome and not particularly effective in maintaining the diapers or baby wipes in their desired condition. U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,176,356 and 5,743,649 also exemplify prior approaches.

One known form of container is a fabric pouch which is, for example, 7 inches wide by 10 inches long and sewn closed at the bottom. The pouch has an opening at the top. A fabric flap commences at the back of the pouch and covers the opening at the top and then attaches to the front of the pouch with Velcro to secure the strap and items inside the pouch. The diapers and a rigid plastic wipe container are placed in the pouch to provide a convenient relatively small and fashionable manner to transport a baby's changing supplies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of this invention is to provide a container for baby items which would be convenient to use and effective in maintaining the items in their desired condition.

A further object of this invention is to provide such a container for baby items which can also be used for a changing pad.

In accordance with this invention the container comprises as one main piece an outside shell which can be selectively disposed in a flat extended condition and which is made of a material, preferably a moisture proof material, so that it is capable of functioning as a changing pad for the baby. The outside shell could also be folded upon itself to create a pouch or container for housing one or more compartments. Preferably the compartments are detachably mounted to the inner surface of the outside shell so that the compartments can be detached when it is desired to use the shell as a changing pad. In addition, the detachability of the compartments makes it possible to vary the number and size of the compartments contained in the shell. Each compartment could house a type of item for baby needs. For example, one compartment could house diapers and another baby wipes. Preferably, each compartment can be sealed closed so that the compartment is moisture tight.

In one practice of this invention a compartment could be detachably inserted into an inner pouch and the inner pouch would be detachably mounted to the inner surface of the outside shell. The detachable mounting could be accomplished through the use of magnets, such as magnetic clasps on the inner surface of the shell and on the outer surface of the inner pouch. A detachable handle could be mounted to each transverse end of the shell so that when the shell is in its closed or folded position the resulting container could be easily held by the handles.

THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a container for baby items in a closed condition in accordance with this invention;

FIG. 2 shows the container of FIG. 1 in an open condition;

FIG. 3 is a view showing the shell and the compartments of FIG. 2 detached from each other;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of a container in its closed condition in accordance with a further embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the container shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of an inner pouch which is shown in phantom in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a rear elevational view of the inner pouch shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of the container shown in FIGS. 4-5 in its open condition;

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view partly in section showing the magnetic clasps used in the embodiment of FIGS. 4-8; and

FIG. 10 is an exploded view showing the detachable mounting of a handle to the shell of the container shown in FIGS. 4-9.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention relates to a container 10 for various baby items. As illustrated container 10 includes as one of its main pieces an outside shell 12. The other components of container 10 are one or more inner compartments, such as compartments 14 and 16 for holding various baby items. As illustrated in FIG. 3 compartment 14 is used for holding baby wipes while compartment 16 is used for containing diapers. As later described, when compartments 14,16 are mounted to outer shell 12, such as shown in FIG. 2, and the outer shell 12 is then folded upon itself to assume the condition shown in FIG. 1 the resulting container effectively contains the baby items such as the diapers and baby wipes in a convenient manner. The container is flexible and extremely portable and indeed is very fashionable in appearance such as resembling a clutch-style woman's purse.

The outer shell 12 provides a fashionable way to contain the inner compartments 14,16 and is preferably made of a moisture-proof material so that when in the condition shown in FIG. 3 the outer pouch 12 can function as a changing pad for the baby. It is to be understood, however, that the invention can be broadly practiced without necessarily using the changing pad feature.

The inner compartments 14,16 provide a place to contain the baby wipes therefore eliminating the need to use the rigid plastic container provided by baby wipe manufacturers. Preferably the inner compartments 14,16 along with the outer shell 12 are made of flexible plastic thereby allowing the container to be folded or bent, if needed, to sit in a preferred location. This is an advantage over prior art practices which use rigid plastic containers provided by the baby wipe manufacturers.

An advantageous feature of this invention is that the inner compartments 14,16 can be made of moisture tight material, preferably plastic, enabling the baby wipes, for example, to remain moist much longer than when the wipes are contained in the rigid plastic non-moisture tight container provided by the baby wipe manufacturers. Such rigid tight containers of the prior art which are not made of moisture-tight plastic do not have a good seal and therefore the baby wipes dry out quickly. The inner compartments 14,16 may take various forms. For example, in one form the compartments could be similar to the known food type bags having a sliding zipper lock such as a “Ziploc” on the outer end of the compartment to provide a liquid moisture seal. Any other suitable type of sealing arrangement could also be used. An alternative would be to utilize the known flexible opening in the center of one of the compartments such as compartment 14 to allow use of the continuously fed style of baby wipes also providing a tight seal. In this arrangement the baby wipes are interleaved and are of the pop-up type where one wipe is pulled from the tight dispensing opening the next wipe projects slightly through the opening so that it can then be later pulled.

The inner compartments are sized to fit many different sizes of baby wipes or other items. This is in contrast to the rigid plastic wipe containers provided by wipe manufacturers which are sized to fit only their own baby wipes so that a consumer can not mix the containers and wipes. This prior art practice limits the purchasing and/or storage options.

In one preferred practice of this invention the inner surface of the outer shell 12 has fastening structure or members 18 at any desired location for fastening the compartments 14,16 which have complementary fastening members 19. A convenient form of fastening member would be Velcro. If desired, a smooth flap could be provided to cover the otherwise exposed fastening members 18 when shell 12 is in its open condition and intended to be used as a changing pad. As a result, the fastening members 18 would not be exposed and therefore would not cause irritation or discomfort to the baby.

A distinct advantage in having the inner compartments detachably mounted to the outer shell 12 is that different size/shape inner compartments could be used and could be mounted at different locations in accordance with the particular needs of the user. Thus, for example, if only baby wipes are necessary the inner compartment 16 need not be included and the resultant container 10 would be reduced in its size or thickness since the shell 12 would carry only the inner compartment 14.

In one practice of the invention the inner compartments may be constructed from a single envelope type structure permanently sealed along its sides and having an openable/closable seal at each end. The envelope could be divided into separate compartments by forming a permanent seal transversely across the envelope such as at about midway of its length. Alternatively, the envelope could be maintained as a single compartment with one or both ends openable and used to contain one or more different items.

Sets of fastening members 18 could be located at various portions on the inner surface of shell 12 to provide alternative locations for mounting compartments of different sizes, shapes, etc.

In use when it is desired the invention could be practiced where a compartment has an entire side or substantial portion of a side including its entire periphery mounted directly to the inner surface of the shell. It should be sufficient, however, that the mounting is simply at only one or two locations since what is essentially intended is to anchor the inner compartment in place since the compartment is confined in the pouch formed by the folded outer shell during periods of non-use to obtain an item such as a diaper or baby wipe, the sealed opening 20 would be manipulated to obtain access to the item in the appropriate inner compartment 14,16. When the item is removed the sealed opening 20 would then be reclosed and resealed.

Preferably, the inner compartment 16 which is intended to hold diapers would be sized to fit the largest size of diapers or a larger quantity of smaller diapers. If desired, however, a smaller compartment 16 could be used where it is only intended to contain smaller diapers.

Preferably, all of the surfaces of the container 10 are covered in plastic for easy cleaning.

Although the inner compartments 14,16 can be attached to the inner surface 12 at any location it is preferred to provide a fastening location at generally the longitudinal mid-line of the shell 12 (excluding the outer flap 22). Thus, the inner compartments 14,16 would be mounted juxtaposed each other and the shell 12 would be folded upon itself at the location where compartments 14,16 are mounted against each other. Shell 12 could then be maintained in this closed folded condition by having a fastening member 24 on the inner surface of flap 22 engage a complementary fastening member 26 on the outer surface of shell 12 so that the container assumes the closed or pouch condition shown in FIG. 1. If desired, additional or alternative fasteners could be provided completely along or partially along the periphery of the inner surface of shell 12 to close the shell when it is folded upon itself by engaging these fasteners, such as snaps, buttons, laces or the like when the shell 12 is in the folded condition. Alternatively, other forms of fasteners such as clips could be mounted along the outside surface of shell 12 when it is folded upon itself to maintain the shell 12 in its folded condition.

If desired straps may be permanently or detachably secured to the outer surface of the outer shell 12 to facilitate carrying the container 10. Alternatively, loops or other forms of detaching structure could be secured to the outer surface of shell 10 to facilitate its storage and portability. The drawings illustrate two inner compartments 14,16 particularly shaped and designed to carry baby wipes and diapers. Alternative and/or compartments could also be provided to provide pockets for such items as a cell phone, wallet, keys, baby ointments, etc. It is even possible to mount these additional pockets by securing one inner compartment directly to and against another inner compartment in piggy-back fashion against the inner surface of shell 12.

Various types of materials can be used for the components of container 10. For example, the outer surface of shell 12 could be made of a fabric particularly suitable for use by a father or to enhance the appearance of the container.

As previously described a particular advantage in the preferred form of outer shell 12 is that it provides a separate “mat” or changing pad and therefore is preferably made of moisture proof material at least on its inner surface. The outer shell would initially be a flat pad (FIG. 3) which would then be folded upon itself and could be connected along its edges such as by snaps, zippers, Velcro, etc. to form a closed pouch or container 10 (FIG. 1).

A further advantage of the present invention is that the inner compartments are readily detachably mounted to the inner surface of the shell in any suitable manner by any suitable fastener, such as but not limited to Velcro. As a result, the inner compartments could be removed from the shell to not only expose the shell for use as a changing pad by providing a clean, dry area for which to change the baby's diaper, but also to expose the inner surface of the shell so that it can be readily cleaned. Preferably, the inner compartments are permanently closed along three edges with the fourth edge being selectively opened or closed such as through the use of any sealable construction, preferably a Ziploc slide zipper fastener on the outer edge. The inner compartments thus have the capability of being moisture-tight which is particularly desirable when containing such items as baby wipes. Where the items are wallets, cell phones, etc. a moisture-tight compartment is not necessary.

FIGS. 4-10 illustrate a modified form of container 10A in accordance with this invention. Container 10A would include an outer shell 12 which could be disposed in a closed condition where it is folded upon itself as shown in FIG. 4 or in an open position as shown in FIG. 8. FIG. 8 illustrates an inner pouch 28 detachably mounted to the inner surface of the shell 12, When inner pouch 28 is removed the flat open shell 12 could function as a changing pad as previously described.

One of the differences between container 10 of FIGS. 1-3 and container 10A of FIGS. 4-10 is that the inner compartment, such as compartment 14, is placed in inner pouch 28 and inner pouch 28 is detachably mounted to shell 12. Inner compartment 14 could be of the type previously described and could be of a size and shape to tightly or even loosely fit in inner pouch 28. An advantage of a separate inner pouch for detachably mounting the compartment 14 to the shell 12 is that the inner pouch 28 could be made of the same type or of a complementary fabric having ornamentations, designs, indicia, etc. the same as or complementary to the appearance on the outer surface and/or inner surface of shell 12.

As shown in FIG. 6 a further advantage of inner pouch 28 is that the inner pouch 28 could include one or more pockets 30, 32, 34 which could be separated from each other by longitudinal stitching 36. The pockets could be completely open at their upper end or could be closed by flaps or other forms of fasteners. An advantage of having these pockets is that the user could hold items such as cell phones, keys, money, etc. FIG. 6, for example, shows a cell phone 38 partially inserted into the pocket 34.

Container 10A includes as its form of fasteners magnetic clasps 18A on the shell 12 with one of the clasps in engagement with a magnetic clasp 19A on the inner pouch 28. Magnetic clasp 19A may be at any suitable location on inner pouch such as at the top or at the bottom or at the center. A top location is illustrated. More than one magnetic clasp 19A may be used on inner pouch 28 with complementary magnetic clasps 18A on shell 12. Only one clasp is preferred which should provide a sufficient locking of pouch 28 to shell 12, particularly where the clasps are snap fastened together in addition to a magnetic mounting. Minimizing the number of clasps on shell 12 is preferred to maintain the surface of shell 12 relatively smooth and uninterrupted.

FIG. 9 shows the magnetic clasp 18A and 19A slightly separated from each other. To assure proper registry and secure mounting of magnetic clasps 18A and 19A one of the clasps, such as clasp 19A includes a projection 40 which would be received in recess 42 thereby properly centering magnetic claps 18A and 19A with respect to each other. The projection/recess could, if desired, also comprise a snap connection which, in combination with the magnets, assures a firm mounting. As shown in FIG. 8, one set of magnetic clasps 18A such as near one edge of the shell 12 would include recesses for receiving projections in the opposite end set of clasps 18A for holding the shell in its closed condition illustrated in FIG. 4.

Preferably inner pouch 28 is made of a washable fabric which could be similar to or the same as the material used for shell 12.

FIGS. 4-5, 8 and 10 also illustrate the inclusion of handles 44 at each end of shell 12. Handles 44 could be permanently attached to shell 12 in any suitable manner. In a preferred practice of the invention, however, handles 44 are detachably mounted such as illustrated in FIG. 10. As shown in FIG. 10 a fabric loop 46 is permanently secured to a transverse edge of shell 12. A U-shaped metal bail 48 is inserted through loop 46. Bail 48 has aligned openings 50,52. Opening 50 in one practice of this invention is threaded. Opening 52 has a recessed shoulder. A fastener 54 would be inserted through opening 52 and then through a corresponding opening 56 in handle 44. Fastener 54 would then be received in opening 50. One end 58 of fastener 54 is threaded and the opposite end has a head with a slot 60. Through use of the slot 60 the fastener 54 could be rotated such as by a screwdriver until the threaded end 58 is firmly engaged in threaded opening 50. The head of fastener 54 would be seated in the recessed shoulder of opening 52. In this manner, an end of handle 44 would be securely mounted to shell 12, but yet could be readily detached which would be particularly desirable for washing the shell 12. A similar structure would be used at each of the four locations where the two handles are connected to shell 12.

It is to be understood that the handle structure described with respect to FIG. 10 is exemplary of the preferred practice of this invention. Other forms of detachable mounting of the handles to the shell could also be used. When the handles are to be removed for washing the metal bails 48 and the metal fastener 54 would also preferably be detached so that only the fabric and the magnetic clasps 18A would remain on shell 12. Alternatively, where the handle and other components are made of a washable material it is not necessary to detach the handle from the shell when cleaning the shell. In such case, it would also not be necessary to make the handle detachable other than to provide the possibility of using other forms of handles or to replace a damaged handle.

In an exemplary practice of the invention as shown in FIGS. 4 and 8, the inner pouch 28 extends from about the lateral center line of shell 12 to slightly below the location of the magnetic clasps 18A, 18A. As a result, the magnetic clasps are exposed for contact with and for engagement to the corresponding magnetic clasps 18A, 18A at the opposite end of shell 12. Where, for example, shell 12 is generally rectangular in shape, shell 12 could be about 17 inches long and about 10 inches wide. Inner pouch 28 could be about 8 inches long and about 9¼ inches wide. The individual pockets 30,32,34 could be about five inches long. The widths of the pockets could vary in accordance with their intended use. Thus, pocket 30 might be about 3 inches wide, while pocket 32 could be about 3¼ inches wide and pocket 34 could be about 2½ inches wide. Magnetic clasps 18A, 18A at each lateral end of shell 12 could be spaced apart about 8 inches from center to center which would be about 1¼ inches from the outer longitudinal edge and about ¾ inches from the outer transverse or lateral edge at each end of shell 12. The magnetic clasp 19A on inner pouch 28 could be located on center or slightly off center in the transverse direction. The complementary magnetic clasp 18A on shell 12 which engages magnetic clasp 19A would be correspondingly located to engage clasp 19A. Each end of handle 44 might be secured at about 2½ inches inwardly from the longitudinal edge of shell 12. The handles may be generally U-shaped with the bight of the U extending about 4½ inches away from the outer lateral edge of shell 12.

Although container 10A is illustrated and described as having a pair of handles the invention could be practiced where, for example, a single handle is provided at one edge of the shell 12. Since the shell 12 would be secured together at its free ends a second handle would not be necessary, but would be preferred for aesthetic reasons and to distribute the forces when carrying the container 10A by its handles.

In the practice of the container shown in FIGS. 4-10 a single inner pouch 28 is detachably secured to the shell 12. The invention, however, could be practiced with a plurality of such inner pouches. For example, the inner pouch 28 could be of a size which is only slightly smaller in width than the width of the shell 12. The pouch 28 is secured to approximately the midway or transverse bisecting line of shell 12. A second similarly shaped pouch could be mounted on the other side of shell 12 and could be disposed against the first inner pouch when the shell 12 is in its closed condition. Alternatively, the inner pouch 28 could be of smaller shape occupying less area than is illustrated. In such case, there could be a plurality of varying shaped inner pouches detachably mounted at desired locations on the inner shell 12 by the provision of suitably located fasteners on shell 12.

The provision of magnetic clasps 18A on the inner surface of shell 12 would, of course, be located on the surface that is used as the changing pad. Such magnetic clasps would preferably be made of a metal material. If it is desired to cover these magnetic clasps a suitable flap could be detachably mounted over the clasps when the shell is used as a changing pad and then exposed when the clasps are used for their fastening function. Preferably, the centrally located magnetic clasp 18A is a clasp which has a recess and does not have a projection that might be uncomfortable when shell 12 is used as a changing pad.

It is to be understood that various features described with a particular embodiment of this invention could be used with other embodiments within the spirit of this invention.

In a broad sense the present invention includes an outer shell and at least one inner compartment mounted to the outer shell. The outer shell has an extended area on its inner surface to function as a changing pad. The inner compartment is detachably mounted to the inner surface of the outer shell so that when it is removed from the outer shell it will selectively expose the extended area. In the preferred practice of this invention the exposed area is the entire inner surface of the outer shell which becomes exposed when the outer shell is disposed in its open flat condition. For use as a container, the outer shell is folded into a pouch condition after the inner compartments have been mounted to the inner surface of the outer shell.