Title:
Infant support system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An infant support system for supporting an infant while feeding, sleeping, and changing. The infant support system includes a support base enclosed by a protective wall. A repositionable panel is provided in the wall, which folds away to the outer side of the protective wall to expose two wedge-shaped infant supports that are removed to open up a recess in the support base. The support base can then be pulled around the torso of the mother. The infant supports may be used to support the infant in a sloping position in front of the mother for feeding. The two wedge-shaped infant supports fill in the recess to provide an even sleep surface for baby.



Inventors:
Goulet, Lisa M. (Biddeford, ME, US)
Application Number:
11/512490
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
08/30/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LIU, JONATHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Eaton Peabody PA (Portland, ME, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An infant support system comprising: a support base having a recess; and a protective wall that provides a selectively openable barrier along said support base, said protective wall rising above an upper surface of said support base and said selectively openable barrier being formed by a repositionable panel that folds away to the outer side of the protective wall to allow access to said recess.

2. The infant support system of claim 1 further comprising an infant support that is adapted to fit into said recess.

3. The infant support system of claim 2, wherein said infant support is wedge-shaped.

4. The infant support system of claim 3, wherein said infant support includes two wedge-shaped infant supports.

5. The infant support system of claim 1, wherein pockets are provided on said protective wall.

6. The infant support system of claim 1, wherein said support base is a foam pad.

7. The infant support system of claim 1, wherein said repositionable panel includes two panels.

Description:

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to the field of pillows or pads used for infant care. More particularly, the invention relates to support devices for feeding or changing an infant and for providing a secure sleeping environment.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Nursing and caring for an infant frequently requires that the mother or careperson hold the infant physically very close to her body. At the same time, it is important to always provide a safe environment for the infant, one that will prevent an infant from accidentally falling or encountering some hazardous situation. Despite all the care and watchfulness that mothers provide, certain situations compromise the safety of the infant. For example, if the mother is holding the infant and falls asleep, the infant may slip away from her and fall.

To nurse an infant, the infant's head must be supported close to the mother's breast. Support pillows are often used to help the mother support the body and head of the infant in the proper position. Some supports are adapted to fit around the torso of a mother. The disadvantage of the known nursing aids is that they do not provide a safe environment for the infant, if the mother should fall asleep. This is particularly a concern, if the mother is seated, with the infant in her arms, and falls asleep.

Some infants are easily roused from sleep. With such infants, it can be distressing to have to change the infant's location after he or she has fallen asleep, and thereby risk waking the infant. For example, when an infant falls asleep while nursing, the mother has to stand up while holding the infant, or pass the infant to another person, and then place him in a bed. This is often enough to waken the infant. The situation may be made worse when using nursing aids that fasten about the body of the mother by means of straps or snaps, or touch-fasteners. The fasteners can be quite noisy when being released, noisy enough to waken an infant who is a light-sleeper.

Many conventional infant carrying devices provide a safe environment for an infant while traveling. These infant carrying devices may be shaped like beds or recliners and are typically equipped with constrainment means that prevent the infant from falling, rolling over, or crawling out of them. These carrying devices may be foldable for stowage, and may have wall panels that fold down, to convert the carrying device to a diaper-changing station. The disadvantage of all conventional infant carrying devices is that they do not allow the mother to get physically close enough to the infant for nursing, while the infant is in the carrying device. As a result, the mother requires two separate devices, one for sleeping and transporting the infant and one for supporting and providing a safe environment for the infant during nursing. This adds to the amount of baby gear that the mother needs to provide the safe environment and also to comfortably nurse the infant.

What is needed, therefore, is an infant support system that supports an infant close to a nursing mother and provides a safe environment for the infant. What is further needed is such an infant support system that is easily adaptable as a support for nursing and as a bed for the infant.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is an infant support system that supports an infant close to the body of the mother, while the infant is nursing, and also provides a safe enclosure for the infant for nursing and sleeping. The infant need not be transferred to a separate bed if the infant falls asleep while nursing. It is understood that the infant support system is particularly useful for holding an infant close to the body of a nursing mother, but that anyone feeding or caring for an infant can use this invention. The term “mother” used hereinafter is representative of any user.

The infant support system according to the invention has a support base surrounded by a protective wall to prevent the infant from rolling or falling from the support base. The support base has a reconfigurable section that includes a recess and at least one infant support that fits into the recess to provide an upper surface that is even with the upper surface of the support base. The infant support is removable to allow use of the recess. The wall has at least one repositionable panel that may be folded out of the way. Ideally, the recess and the repositionable panel are dimensioned to accommodate the width of the mother's torso. Together, the mother's body and the remaining protective wall provide a complete protective barrier that prevents the infant from slipping or rolling away in an unsafe manner, even if the mother falls asleep or is otherwise preoccupied.

Fastening means are provided to hold the repositionable panel or panels in a closed position or an open position. The fastening means may be a buckle, a system of straps with a buckle, a fabric hook-and-loop closure, or other closure devices. Simple straps with ties may also be used to fasten the repositionable panel(s) in position.

Handles or grips may be provided on the infant support system. Pockets may be provided on the outside of the wall and/or at the inside corners of the walls for holding drinks, bottles and/or other supplies. The infant support system may be constructed of any suitable material. The support base should be firm enough to safely support an infant while asleep, yet soft enough for infant comfort. A foam pad or a pad constructed of natural fibers or fabrics is a suitable support base. The entire wall or portions of the wall may be padded and/or alternatively constructed of a mesh material for ventilation purposes. The reconfigurable section of the support base may be any suitable shape that will adapt to the contour of a person's torso.

In some applications, particularly for nursing, the mother may wish to pull the support base close around her body. Access to the recess is gained by folding the repositionable panel off to the side and removing the infant support from the reconfigurable section. She may now pull the support base about her torso, such that side portions of the support base extend along the side of her body toward her back. This extension toward the back provides a support for the mother's lower arms, as well as a support for the lower body of the nursing infant. If the infant falls asleep, the mother merely moves the support base away from her body, replaces the infant support in the recess, and closes the repositionable panel to obtain the safe sleeping environment. The infant does not have to be moved or repositioned. Furthermore, if the mother falls asleep while nursing, the infant is secure, because it is contained in an area enclosed by the remaining wall and the mother's body.

It is often desirable to use cushions to hold the infant in a sloping position while nursing, to promote comfort for the mother and proper digestion for the infant. Ideally, two removable infant supports are used to fill in the recess, each one triangular or wedge-shaped in the elevational dimension that is parallel to the repositionable panel. The two infant supports are placed in the recess to form a flat surface that is substantially contiguous and even with the surface of the support base. When nursing an infant, one of the wedge-shaped infant supports may be used to provide a sloping surface to position the infant's head close to the mother's breast. The infant supports also provide a means for accommodating the differences in body size of mothers and infants. The infant supports, being wedge-shaped, provide height adjustability. For example, the high end of the wedge may be pulled closer to the mother's body to raise the infant's head as high as possible, or be placed farther from the mother's body to raise the infant's head only slightly. When nursing twins, both infant supports may be used simultaneously.

A nursing mother recovering from childbirth or suffering some physical handicap may be unable to walk, move comfortably, or lift heavy objects. In such a situation, the mother needs to be able to simply slide the infant support system from one location to another, without lifting it, or to use it on an adjustable table support, such as an over-the-bed hospital table. The present invention may be fitted with a fastening means with which to secure it to the table support.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is described with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements.

FIG. 1 is a top planar view of the infant support system according to the invention, wherein the support system comprises a support base surrounded by a wall with a repositionable panel.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing the the wedge-shaped infant supports in the re-configurable section, with the repositionable panels folded away from the recess.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1, showing the fastening means.

FIG. 4 illustrates the support base with infant supports removed, to provide access to the recess.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention will now be described more fully in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which the preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention should not, however, be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, they are provided so that this disclosure will be complete and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate an infant support system 100 according to the invention. The infant support system 100 has a support base 101 surrounded by a protective wall 102. The wall 102 includes a repositionable panel 103. Also shown is a reconfigurable section 105, which is a recess 106 formed in the support base 101 that is filled in with a removable infant support 200.

As seen in FIG. 2, the repositionable panel 103 includes two panels 103 and 104, which are folded away from the reconfigurable section 105. The repositionable panels 103, 104 may be sub-divided into sections, to reduce the sweep needed when folding them off to the side. Although two panels 103 and 104 are shown, it is understood that one or more panels 103 may be provided as needed to provide an opening in the protective wall 102 that allows the mother to pull the support base 101 close about her torso.

FIGS. 2 and 4 illustrates detail of the reconfigurable section 105. In the particular embodiment shown, the infant support 200 includes two wedge-shaped infant supports 201, 202 which, placed one on top of the other, form a flat surface that is substantially contiguous and even with the surface of the support base 101. Removing both infant supports 201 202 opens the recess 106 and allows the mother to pull the support base 101 close around her body. FIG. 4 shows the recess 106 exposed. It is understood that handles 203 and pockets 204 may be provided on the wall in any suitable location.

FIG. 3 shows fastening means 300 used to hold the repositionable panels 103,104 in the open or closed position. In the embodiment shown, the fastening means 301 are straps with a closure 302 that secures the repositionable panels 103,104. The fastening means are not limited to a pair of straps; rather, any suitable fastening means 300 may be provided. For example, the fastening means 300 may comprise fabric straps with touch-fasteners or elastic bands, simple ties, snaps, buckles, etc. An additional closure 302 is shown on the outer surface of the protective wall 102 for securing the repositionable panels 103,104 in the opened position.

It is understood that the embodiments described herein are merely illustrative of the present invention. Variations in the construction of the infant support system may be contemplated by one skilled in the art without limiting the intended scope of the invention herein disclosed and as defined by the following claims.