Title:
Spill-proof drinking straw and adapter assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for attachment to ordinary containers such as bottles, cans and glasses to enable an infant or toddler to drink from the container by using a straw. The device includes a flexible bag-like adapter having a stretchable elastic band on a first end for removable sealed attachment to an open end of the container, and a reduced diameter neck on a second end. A straw extends through and is fixed and sealed to the neck, and extends through the adapter and projects from the adapter at its opposite ends. Tabs on the first end of the adapter facilitate stretching of the band, which has enough strength to resist removal of the device by infants and toddlers, but is relatively easy to apply and remove by an adult. The length of the straw may be adjustable, and the straw may include a flexible bendable joint.



Inventors:
Shafik, Aasef (Annandale, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/716800
Publication Date:
09/18/2008
Filing Date:
03/12/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D77/28
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
EDWARDS, BRETT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dennis H. Lambert & Associates (Burke, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for attachment to a container to enable an infant or toddler to drink from the container by using a straw, comprising: a flexible bag-like adapter having a stretchable elastic band on a first end thereof for removable sealed attachment to an open end of a container, and a reduced diameter neck on a second end thereof; a straw extending through and fixed and sealed to said reduced diameter neck, said straw extending through the adapter and at a first end projecting beyond the first end of the adapter for insertion into a container, and at a second end projecting beyond the second end of the adapter so that it can be accessed by a person using the device; and tabs on the first end of the adapter to facilitate stretching of the band and placement of the device on a container and removal therefrom, said elastic band having enough strength to resist removal of the device by infants and toddlers, but being relatively easy to apply and remove by an adult.

2. A device as claimed in claim 1, wherein: the first end of the straw includes an adjustable portion that is extendable and retractable so that the length of the first end can be adjusted.

3. A device as claimed in claim 2, wherein: the adjustable portion comprises telescopically engaged straws.

4. A device as claimed in claim 1, wherein: the flexible bag-like adapter is transparent.

5. A device as claimed in claim 1, wherein: the container comprises a bottle, and the open end comprises a reduced diameter neck on the bottle, said elastic band being sufficiently stretchable and the bag-like adapter being sufficiently flexible to enable attachment of the device to a variety of bottles having different diameter necks.

6. A device as claimed in claim 5, wherein: the first end of the straw includes telescopically engaged straws so that the length of the straw can be adjusted; and the second end of the straw includes a flexible bendable joint.

7. A device as claimed in claim 6, wherein: the flexible bag-like adapter is transparent.

8. A device as claimed in claim 1, wherein: the container comprises a can.

9. A device as claimed in claim 8, wherein: the first end of the straw includes telescopically engaged straws so that the length of the straw can be adjusted; and the second end of the straw includes a flexible bendable joint.

10. A device as claimed in claim 9, wherein: the flexible bag-like adapter is transparent.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to drinking implements, and more particularly to a spill-proof drinking straw and adapter assembly that can be attached and sealed to various beverage containers such as bottles, cans, glasses, and the like, to enable small children and infants to drink from such containers.

BACKGROUND ART

Infants are generally limited to drinking from nursing bottles having a nipple. Small children and toddlers typically drink from a so-called sippy cup that is specially constructed to prevent spills. However, occasions may arise when a nursing bottle or sippy cup is not readily available. In those instances it would be advantageous if the infant or toddler could drink, preferably unassisted, from an ordinary container such as a bottle, can or glass, since those types of containers are generally readily available.

Devices are known in the prior art that enable use of a drinking straw with a variety of containers, and may be able to function to enable toddlers, and in some cases even infants, to drink from a container other than a nursing bottle or a sippy cup. However, many of these devices require specially constructed containers, with means on the container that cooperate with complementary structure on the device, thus precluding their use with ordinary bottles, cans and glasses. Other prior devices comprise a nipple adapted for use with a straw, and either require the use of a nursing bottle or are not spill proof. Still other prior art devices do not seal the straw or drinking tube to the adapter and/or to the container. Some prior devices are relatively rigid structures, while others are of limited flexibility and permit only limited movement of the straw, requiring the person using it to properly position the container, and may require greater dexterity than is normally possessed by an infant or toddler. Few, if any, prior art devices enable sealed attachment of a drinking straw to an ordinary bottle, can or glass, and especially wherein the straw has great flexibility of movement so that the container does not have to be unduly manipulated.

It would be desirable, therefore, to have a device that enables an infant or toddler to drink from an ordinary container such as a bottle, can, or glass, wherein the device is constructed to avoid spills and does not require manipulation of the container to particular positions during use. It would further be desirable to have such a device that is inexpensive and can be disposed of after a single use, and that is constructed so that it can be easily attached to and removed from a container by an adult but difficult to remove by an infant or toddler.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises a device that enables an infant or toddler to drink from an ordinary container such as a bottle, can, or glass, wherein the device is constructed to avoid spills and does not require manipulation of the container to particular positions during use. The device is inexpensive and can be disposed of after a single use, and is constructed so that it can be easily attached to and removed from a container by an adult but difficult to remove by an infant or toddler.

More specifically, the device of the invention comprises an adapter and straw assembly, wherein the adapter comprises a flexible bag-like structure having an elastic band on a first end thereof for sealed attachment to a container, and a reduced neck on a second end fixed and sealed to a straw. The straw extends through the adapter and at one end projects beyond the first end of the adapter for insertion into a container, and at the other end projects beyond the second end of the adapter so that it can be accessed by a person using the device. Tabs are provided on the first end of the adapter to facilitate placement of the device on a container and removal therefrom. The elastic band preferably has enough strength to prevent removal of the device by infants and toddlers, but is relatively easy to apply and remove by an adult.

One or more of the devices can be easily stored and carried, since it occupies essentially no more space than that occupied by the straw. The straw itself can be made so that its length can be expanded and contracted. This feature makes the device more compact for carrying and storage, and also permits the length of the straw to be adapted to different size containers.

The device of the invention can be provided in any desired size, but preferably is provided in a smaller first size for attachment to bottles and in a larger second size for attachment to cans and glasses.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing, as well as other objects and advantages of the invention, will become apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference characters designate like parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a first embodiment of the device of the invention shown applied to a bottle.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the device of FIG. 1, shown removed from a container and with the first end slightly expanded.

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of a second embodiment of the device of the invention shown applied to a can.

FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of the second embodiment of the device of the invention shown applied to a glass.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

A first embodiment of the device of the invention is indicated generally at 10 in FIGS. 1 and 2. As seen best in FIG. 2 the device 10 comprises a highly flexible, preferably transparent, bag-like adapter 11. The adapter may be made of a suitable elastomeric material, or it may comprise a composition that is the same as or similar to the composition of the covers that are commercially available for placement over containers of food. The adapter has an elastic band 12 on a first end and a reduced diameter neck 13 on a second end. An elongate drinking straw 14 extends through the adapter 11 and is fixed and sealed in the neck 13 on the second end of the adapter. A first end 15 of the straw projects a substantial distance beyond the first end of the adapter, and a second end 16 of the straw projects a smaller distance beyond the second end of the adapter. The first end of the straw may include a portion 17 that is extendable and retractable so that the length of the first end can be adjusted to fit containers of different length or depth. In the example shown the portion 17 comprises a second straw 18 telescopically received in the end of straw 14. The second end of the straw 14 may include a flexible bendable joint 19 as shown in FIG. 1, or it may simply extend straight as shown at 20 in FIG. 2. One or more tabs 21 preferably are provided on the adapter at the band 12 to facilitate placement of the adapter on a bottle, and removal therefrom.

The diameter of the band in its relaxed or contracted state is smaller than the diameter of the neck of a typical nursing bottle and typical beverage bottles, including bottles for soft drinks, juices, water, and the like. Accordingly, when the band is stretched and applied to the neck N of a bottle B as shown in FIG. 1, it tightly engages the neck to hold the adapter securely in place and prevent leakage of liquid between the band and neck. The relaxed and the stretched diameters of the band are such that the adapter is usable with essentially all bottles of the type noted, even when there are variations in the neck diameters of the bottles.

A second embodiment of the device of the invention is indicated generally at 25 in FIGS. 3 and 4. This embodiment is virtually identical to the first embodiment described above, and corresponding parts are indicated by like reference characters primed. This form differs from the first embodiment in that the band 12′ has a larger diameter for application to cans C and glasses G and the like.

The highly flexible nature of the bag-like adapter 11 enables the straw to be easily moved around with a great degree of freedom, whereby it is not necessary to manipulate the container in order to position the straw for use.

The device is inexpensive to make, easy to use, and may be disposed of after use.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described in detail herein, it should be understood that various changes and modifications may be made in the invention without departing from the spirit and intent of the invention as defined by the appended claims.