Title:
Protective pads for cribs and child safety devices
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided are protective pads which cover the balusters of a baby crib or protective gate/room divider, comprising a cushioning material and means for affixing the said pads to the tops and bottoms of individual balusters and for securing the pads about the balusters. The securing means comprise complementary strips of Velcro®.



Inventors:
Parish, Bethany L. (New York, NY, US)
Alen, Marta (New York, NY, US)
Parish, Anthony J. (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/501058
Publication Date:
02/14/2008
Filing Date:
08/09/2006
Assignee:
Cross Waters, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/663
International Classes:
A47C27/08; A47C31/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030159217Neck napperAugust, 2003Clemons
20100088820USE OF DIRECTIONAL SOUND SOURCE, MEDICAL TREATMENT STATION AND MEDICAL TREATMENT ROOMApril, 2010Kloeffel
20090050162OPERATING SUPPORT FOR SURGEONSFebruary, 2009Turner et al.
20090288259Latex Foam Bedding Products Including Phase Change MicrocapsulesNovember, 2009Lean et al.
20090044341FLAME RESISTANT TICKING THAT REDUCES FLAME PROPAGATION AND UPHOLSTERED ARTICLES INCORPORATING SAMEFebruary, 2009Baldwin Jr. et al.
20090178201Adjustable Bed Having Movable Lumbar SupportJuly, 2009Lujan et al.
20070186349Self inflating air mattressAugust, 2007Lipman et al.
20070074348Infant lulling deviceApril, 2007Carlton
20060117488Automatic massage air cushionJune, 2006Hung et al.
20090025150Systems and methods for hinged bedding assembliesJanuary, 2009Smalling et al.
20030024047Rail device for engaging with bedFebruary, 2003Wu



Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sheldon Palmer (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A protective pad for a baluster in a child protective article having an upper end and a lower end, said pad comprising a flexible padded fabric material sufficient in length to extend from the upper end of the baluster to the lower end of the baluster, and sufficient in width to be wrapped completely around the baluster so that when the pad is fully secured to and wrapped around the baluster, said pad provides a safety cushion to a child coming into contact therewith, said flexible padded fabric material having an inner surface for contacting the baluster, and an outer surface which, when the pad is wrapped around the baluster generally conforms to the shape of the baluster and faces outward therefrom, the flexible padded fabric material further comprising a first portion of a first fastening means secured lengthwise along an edge of the outer surface of the flexible padded fabric material and a second complementary portion of the first fastening means secured lengthwise along the other edge of the inner surface of the flexible padded fabric material whereby, when the flexible padded fabric material is wrapped around the baluster, said first and second portions of the first fastening means secure the first and second portions to each other and secure the flexible padded fabric material around the baluster, the flexible padded fabric material further comprising a first portion of a second fastening means comprising a flap of fabric secured to the top of the outer surface of the flexible padded fabric material and of a length sufficient to enable it to fit over the top of the baluster and attach to a second complementary portion of the second fastening means which comprises a fastening strip affixed to the top of the inner surface of the flexible padded fabric material to secure same to the top of the baluster, said fastening strip being of substantially the same length and width as the flap of fabric, the flexible padded fabric material further comprising a first portion of a third fastening means comprising a flap of fabric secured to the bottom of the outer surface of the flexible padded material and of a length sufficient to enable it to fit over the bottom of the baluster and attach to a second complementary portion of the third fastening means which comprises a fastening strip affixed to the bottom of the inner surface of the flexible padded fabric material to secure same to the bottom of the baluster, said fastening strip being of substantially the same length and width as the flap of fabric, whereby when all three fastening means are secured in place, the baluster is substantially completely covered by the flexible padded fabric material and a child contacting the covered baluster is protected from injury.

2. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1, wherein the child protective article is a crib.

3. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1, wherein the child protective article is a gate for sealing a doorway between adjacent rooms or between a room and a staircase.

4. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1, wherein the flexible padded fabric material is a fire resistant, washable, non-allergenic, mildew resistant polyester compound.

5. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1 wherein the first and second portions of the first fastening means comprise complementary, attachable strips of Velcro®.

6. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first and second portions of the second and third fastening means comprise complementary attachable strips of Velcro®.

7. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1, wherein the Velcro® strips comprising the first portions of the second and third fastening means are sewn onto the distal ends of the fastening strips comprising same and are of a length substantially equal to the length of the strips comprising the second portions sewn onto the inner surface of the pad.

8. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1 and further comprising a transparent or colored removable cover.

9. A protective pad as claimed in claim 8 wherein the removable cover described includes as an aesthetically pleasing design.

10. A protective pad as claimed in claim 1 wherein when the outer surface of the pad faces outward, the fastening means are not readily reachable by an infant in the crib and thereby make it difficult for the infant to open or otherwise tamper with the fastening means.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable %

THE NAMES OF THE PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT

Not Applicable

INCORPORATION-BY-REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to protective pads for crib slats (balusters) which support crib railings, balusters on safety gates used to seal off doorways or stairs for child safety purposes, and more particularly to pads which cover the balusters (vertical slats or uprights) of various types of infant or toddler cribs and other safety apparatus.

2. Description of the Related Art

Infants, toddlers and sometimes even older children are often confined to cribs or play pens for extended periods of time, not only while asleep but also awake. Children are also often confined to a specific room for safety sake by the use of gates or dividers that seal off one room from another or from a staircase. Even at 2 years plus, many toddlers spend many hours in the crib during sleep alone. Because of this, it is important to maintain high safety standards in the crib or playpen, as well as the with respect to gates or dividers.

There have been described in the prior art a number of ways to provide a measure of safety and convenience in cribs and other articles. Thus, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,437,071 and 6,055,690 disclose bumbers for crib balusters, including the use of Velcro® fasteners for sealing the bumper about the balusters. Additionally, U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,203,921; 3,430,272; 5,241,718; 6,742,751 and 6,772,457 disclose other types of crib bumpers. Moreover, there are safety bumpers (U.S. Patent 959,116), including various fasteners (U.S. Pat. No. 3,877,090) and other connections of the bumpers to the crib mattress or bed sheet (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,767,419; 4,890,346). However, bumpers and pads reported in the art inadequately protect against one of the greatest potential hazards found in the crib, the crib balusters themselves. For purposes of the present application, crib balusters refer to the vertical supports fixed between the horizontal railings of a crib and/or the vertical supports fixed between horizontal railings in security gates.

The invention, as will be shown below, offers significant improvements over prior art products. Thus, the prior art generally describes devices of questionable safety that merely wrap around individual crib slats, or balusters and which contain a “stabilizing object” to help maintain the device's upright position and employ an elastic/snap mechanism to hold the stabilizing object inside the device. Notably absent in all the prior art is anything that anchors the device both to the top and bottom railings of the sides of the crib or the balusters comprising the sides. Without such anchors, an enterprising infant may be able to twist the device to access and unfasten the fasteners, unsnap the elastic/snap mechanism (allowing the stabilizing object to fall out or be removed) and possibly detach the snap (which could then be swallowed). Displacement of the stabilizing object may also puncture the device, thus causing potential injury to the infant. In addition to the prior art's safety shortcomings, its inclusion of a stabilizing object, which must be removed and replaced whenever the device is laundered, makes the device impractical to clean and keep sanitary.

The present invention, as will be illustrated below, overcomes the prior art shortcomings and offers a safe, efficient way to protect the infant. The invention employs a “wrap and flap” configuration which includes a means of wrapping each baluster with a padded sleeve (“pad’) and anchoring the pad to a crib's top and bottom rails. The flaps serve to maintain the pad's upright position on the baluster and stabilize it, as well as to prevent the infant from twisting the device to access the fasteners. The invention retains its permanent shape and maintains a fixed vertical position due to the sewn on Velcro® fastening flaps that the invention provides. The invention employs no dangerous elastic/snap mechanism (or any other objects that can be removed). For these reasons, the invention surmounts the disadvantages of the prior art and along remedies the hazards described above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides protective pads for crib balusters which overcome the disadvantages of using crib bumpers described in the prior art. Generally, the invention provides a pad of flexible material which is wrapped completely around a crib baluster. The material is shaped to conform to the height and width of the baluster and comprises a plurality, usually three, of fastening means, one of which means is aligned lengthwise along the opposing edges of the pad and comprises the two complementary parts of a conventional hook and loop fastener of the type known as Velcro® brand fasteners, so that when the two edges of the pad are wrapped about the baluster, the hooks and loops of the Velcro® fastener lock together and secure the first fastening means about the perimeter of the baluster. The other two fastening means also comprise Velcro® fasteners, with one of the two complementary parts attached to the distal ends of flaps of fabric affixed to each of the ends of the pad, with the other complementary part affixed to a corresponding area on the inner surface of the pad, and being so configured and positioned as to enable the two complementary parts of the fasteners to wrap around and secure both the top and the bottom of the baluster to the pad with which it is associated.

In another embodiment, the invention provides the very same type pad and its associated fastening means for use on balusters forming part of a gate or other room isolating device. These devices typically are used to bar movement from one room to another by blocking the doorway between rooms, or blocking movement from one room to an adjacent staircase, leading, for example to a second story or a basement. When such a gate is positioned in the doorway between rooms or between a room and a staircase, the pads, when wrapped about the baluster forming part of the gate will provide the same kind of protection to an infant as does the pad in a baby crib. In either embodiment of the invention, the outer portion of the pad may be made of any material which is nontoxic to an infant, and may be comprised of vinyl, rubber, cloth, or plastic. Also, the outer portion may be of varying degrees of thickness, depending on the degree of cushioning that is desired. Cushioning material for use in pads according to the invention may be any impact-absorbing material and may preferably be a fire resistant and retardant, washable, non-allergenic, non-yellowing, mildew resistant polyester compound such as Poly-fil®, or Nu-Foam® brand of polyester produced by Fairfield, Inc. Numerous alternative embodiments of the invention are apparent. For example, the pads may contain a separate outer removable covering which may contain designs or may be colored or clear. The invention is more fully described with reference to the drawings in the detailed description of the invention which follows the description of the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a crib showing the protective pads in place around each baluster.

FIG. 2 is a horizontal cross-sectional view taken along lines 2-2 of a baluster element.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a baluster element to show the various Velcro® components and how they engage each element.

FIG. 4 is an elevational view looking at one of the vertical balusters or slats.

FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view of the side rail of the crib through line 5-5 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is an elevational view looking at one of the balusters showing partial engagement (folding) of the top/bottom strips coming around and engaging the rail.

FIG. 7 is a partial cross-sectional view through line 7-7 of FIG. 6. showing the top and bottom securing strips wrapped around the top and bottom of the baluster.

FIG. 8 is an elevational view of one of the vertical balusters of the side railing showing the right side of the pad being brought around the vertical baluster.

FIG. 9 is a partial cross-sectional view along line 9-9 of FIG. 8 showing the side panel being brought around the baluster.

FIG. 10 is an elevational view of one baluster of a side railing showing the left hand side of the pad engaging the other side.

FIG. 11 is a partial cross-sectional view through the top and bottom rails along line 11-11 of FIG. 10. The baluster element is shown in elevation or completely assembled with both sides fully in place.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a safety gate showing two of the balusters thereof having fully secured pads thereon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention will now be described in greater detail having reference to the several drawing figures. As seen in FIG. 1, a conventional crib 10 has opposing end walls 11 and 12. Each of the end walls terminates in legs 13 and 14 respectively, and support a platform (not shown) upon which is placed a mattress 15. Attached to the end walls 11 and 12 are side railings having upper and lower ends 16 and 17, with a plurality of slats or balusters 18 secured therebetween, and which, together with the end walls form the crib enclosure within which an infant (or small child) sleeps or otherwise spends time. Also shown (described below in greater detail) are protective pads 100 formed of fabric filled with a fiber fill (described above) 101 [FIG. 2] to provide a cushioning effect for the infant when the pads are wrapped around and secured to each of the balusters. In FIG. 2, which is a view along line 2-2 of FIG. 1, a baluster 18 and its associated pad 100 are shown with the pad completely wrapped around and secured to the baluster. FIG. 3 also shows, in exploded form, a baluster and its pad with the several fastening means, showing how the various parts of the fastening means attach to each other so as to provide a completely enclosed baluster. The specific arrangement of the parts of the fastening means and how they connect will be described below in conjunction with the other drawing figures.

As seen in greater detail in FIGS. 4 and 5, baluster 18 having upper and lower ends 16 and 17 is shown with pad 100 adjacent it and ready to be wrapped around and secured to the baluster. Pad 100 as seen in FIG. 4 shows its inner surface 110, but not its outer surface 111 which faces directly opposite inner surface 110. A first portion 102 of a first fastening means extends lengthwise along an edge of the outer surface 111 and a second complementary portion 103 of the first fastening means extends lengthwise along the other (visible) edge of inner surface 10.

A second fastening means comprising a first portion 104, which is a flap of fabric secured to the top of the pad 100 having a Velcro® pad 104a affixed to the distal end thereof, which when portion 104 is wrapped over the top 16 of the baluster is then secured to the second portion 105 of the second fastening means, said second portion also being a complementary pad of Velcro®. In like manner, a third fastening means comprising a first portion 106 which is a flap of fabric secured to the bottom of the pad 100, having a Velcro® pad 106a affixed to its distal end and which, when portion 106 is wrapped under the bottom 17 of the baluster is then secured to the second portion 107 of the third fastening means, said second portion 107 also being a complementary pad of Velcro®. FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate the state of the pad 100 at this stage in its fastening to the baluster, that is, when the pad is secured both to the top and bottom to the baluster.

As seen in FIGS. 8 and 9, the right side of the pad having the edge of the outer surface 111 and its first portion 102 of the first fastening means 102 is wrapped around the body of baluster 18 in the direction of the curved arrows 108 (FIG. 8), while holding the said right side in place, and as illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11, the other, left side of the pad is wrapped around the baluster in the direction shown by the curved arrows 109 in FIG. 10 so that the second complementary portion 103 of the first fastening means is brought into contact with first portion 102 and secured thereto; that is, the two complementary Velcro® strips 102 and 103 which extend along the entire length of the edges of the two sides of the pad are affixed to one another. In this manner, the baluster 18 is completely wrapped within pad 100 and secured top and bottom to the rails 16 and 17 by the second and third fastening means, and pad 100 is completely wrapped around the width of baluster 18 and secured completely along its length by the first fastening means.

In another embodiment, namely, a gate or divider for isolating one room from another or a room from a staircase shown in FIG. 12, the gate which may be expandable or contractible as dictated by the width of the opening is provided with upper and lower rails with a plurality of baluster described therebetween in a manner similar to that shown in the crib. The balusters of the gate are covered and completely wrapped within the pad 100 and secured top and bottom in the same manner as described above in reference to the crib.

As will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the foregoing detailed description, the protective pads according to the invention have several distinct advantages over the prior art as follows: An advantage of the invention over the prior art is the ability to provide constant and maximal protection for an infant or toddler whenever the child is in a crib, or confined to one room by a divider fitted with the pads. A fall by a child against a baluster will be cushioned by the pads in contrast to conventional crib bumpers. Moreover, the toddler will be fully protected by the pads during both sleep and waking, at an age when crib bumpers are typically removed from the crib. The use of the pads also aids the infant's visual awareness since the infant may easily look through the balusters are not blocked by bumpers. Similarly, a parent or caretaker may continuously monitor the child. This is possible as the pads covering the balusters are only about an inch wider than the balusters themselves. Additionally, the use of padded balusters instead of conventional crib bumpers improves the airflow in and through the crib because air can more freely flow between the paddes balusters than over and around conventional bumpers. Moreover, in the event that a small section of a bumper becomes torn, ripped, badly soiled or otherwise damaged, the entire bumper must be replaced. However, the pads according to the present invention can be individually replaced if sold in replacement packages of 2 or 3. As a result, a full set of pads need only be purchased once for as long as the child needs the crib.





 
Previous Patent: Foldable baby crib

Next Patent: Foot warming bed sheet