Title:
SLEEP AID WITH POSITION INDICATOR ALONG WITH METHOD INCORPORATING SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An infant sleep positioner for supporting an infant upon a support surface, including a cushion that has an elongate pad of a selected size and configuration. The pad has a lower surface adapted to confront the support surface and an upper surface opposite the lower surface. The upper surface may be oriented at an acute angle with respect to the lower surface such that the upper surface is inclined relative to the support surface along a longitudinal axis extending between first and second end portions of the pad. The sleep positioner also includes a sleep position indicator including a flap that is movably attached relative to the cushion between a first position to inform a first position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner, and a second position to inform a second position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner.



Inventors:
John, Lord. (Denver, CO, US)
Application Number:
12/389170
Publication Date:
06/18/2009
Filing Date:
02/19/2009
Assignee:
Summer Infant (USA), Inc. (Woonsocket, RI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D13/00; A47D13/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Holland & Hart LLP (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An infant sleep positioner for supporting an infant upon a support surface, comprising: a. a cushion including an elongate pad of selected size and configuration, said pad having a lower surface adapted to confront the support surface and an upper surface opposite the lower surface; and b. a sleep position indicator including a flap that is movably attached relative to said cushion between a first position to inform a first position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner, and a second position to inform a second position of the infant with respect to said infant sleep positioner.

2. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 1 wherein a first side of said flap includes first indicia corresponding to a first body position of the infant, and a second side of said flap includes second indicia corresponding to a second body position of the infant.

3. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 2 wherein each of said first indicia and said second indicia includes a depiction of an animal's head for respectively informing first and second head positions of the infant with respect to said infant sleep positioner.

4. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 1 wherein said pad extends along a longitudinal axis, and wherein said flap is movably disposed in opposite directions that are each parallel to the longitudinal axis.

5. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 1 wherein said pad extends along a longitudinal axis, and wherein said flap is movably disposed in opposite directions that are each transverse to the longitudinal axis.

6. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 1 wherein said cushion includes a casing that substantially surrounds said pad, and wherein said flap is supported by said casing.

7. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 6 wherein said flap projects away from said casing.

8. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 6 wherein said flap is attached to said casing.

9. An infant sleep positioner for positioning an infant on its side, comprising: a. a cushion, including: i. a first downwardly sloping concave surface configured to support a back of the infant when placed against it, said concave surface having a slope within a range of 20 degrees to 85 degrees, inclusively; and ii. a second upwardly sloping surface configured to support a stomach and/or chest of the infant; wherein the first downwardly sloping concave surface and the second upwardly sloping surface are part of a continuous surface which does not contain any substantially flat portion therebetween; and b. a sleep position indicator projecting from said cushion, said sleep position indicator including a flap that is movable between a first position to inform a first position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner, and a second position to inform a second position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner.

10. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 9 wherein said cushion includes a pad defining said continuous surface and a casing that substantially surrounds said pad, and wherein said flap is attached to said casing.

11. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 9 wherein said pad is elongate to accommodate an infant when placed thereon in a reposed position such that the infant extends along a longitudinal axis of the pad, and wherein said flap is movably disposed in opposite directions that are each parallel to the longitudinal axis.

12. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 9 wherein a first side of said flap includes first indicia corresponding to a first body position of the infant, and a second side of said flap includes second indicia corresponding to a second body position of the infant.

13. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 12 wherein each of said first indicia and said second indicia includes a depiction of an animal's head for respectively informing first and second head positions of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner.

14. An infant sleep positioner for supporting an infant on a support surface, comprising: a. a cushion including a pad of selected size and configuration, said pad having a lower surface adapted to confront the support surface and an upper surface opposite the lower surface, said upper surface oriented at an acute angle with respect to said lower surface such that said upper surface is inclined relative to the support surface along a longitudinal axis extending between first and second end portions of said pad; and b. a sleep position indicator projecting from said cushion, said sleep position indicator including a flap that is movable between a first position to inform a first position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner, and a second position to inform a second position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner.

15. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 14 further comprising at least a first positioning member of a selected size and configuration supported on the upper surface of said pad.

16. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 15 further comprising a second positioning member of a selected size and configuration supported on the upper surface of said pad.

17. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 16 wherein at least one of said first and second positioning members is releasably attached relative to said cushion.

18. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 14 wherein said cushion includes a casing that substantially surrounds said pad, and wherein said flap is attached to said casing.

19. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 14 wherein said flap is movably disposed in opposite directions that are each transverse to the longitudinal axis.

20. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 14 wherein a first side of said flap includes first indicia corresponding to a first body position of the infant, and a second side of said flap includes second indicia corresponding to a second body position of the infant.

21. An infant sleep positioner according to claim 16 wherein each of said first indicia and said second indicia includes a depiction of an animal's head for respectively informing first and second head positions of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/014,645, filed Jan. 15, 2008, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/013,382, filed Jan. 11, 2008, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/897,740, filed on Jan. 24, 2007, the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

According to many medical experts, infants who sleep on their back or side have a reduced risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when compared to those who sleep on their stomachs. Starting in 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that infants sleep on their back/side in an effort to reduce the incidence of SIDS. One of the theories being that small infants with little or no control of their heads may, while face down, smother themselves on their bedding. In an effort to reduce the risk of SIDS, various infant sleep aids, such as infant sleep positioners, have been developed. For example, the INFANT SUPPORT SYSTEM as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,877,176 B2, issued Apr. 12, 2005 to Houghteling, includes a cushion for supporting an infant and includes positioning support members for maintaining the infant in a safe sleeping position. In addition, the casing of the cushion includes breathable material to help prevent suffocation.

Since the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that infants sleep lying on their back/side, infants are more often placed in a supine position for sleeping. An unanticipated effect of the supine sleeping position is an increase in the number of infants developing deformational or positional plagiocephaly. Positional plagiocephaly is characterized by a flat spot on the back or one side of the infant's head. Positional plagiocephaly is caused by the infant's head remaining in one position for too long or being repeatedly positioned in the same manner while sleeping. A newborn infant's skull is relatively deformable due to flexibility of the bone plates and non-fusion between adjacent bone plates. This flexibility allows the infant's skull to pass through the mother's pelvis during birth, but also allows the skull to deform if it remains in one place for too long. Experts now recommend that infants sleep on their back with their head positioned on one side or the other to prevent a flat or misshapen area in the back of their skull. However, if an infant spends too much time sleeping with his/her head positioned on the same side, plagiocephaly may occur on the side of the infant's head. If the weight of the infant's head is allowed to exert pressure on the same side of the infant's head for too long, the skull deformation may become permanent.

In an effort to reduce the instances of plagiocephaly while continuing to protect infants against the possibility of SIDS, some manufacturers have marketed infant positioners that encourage an infant's parents to place the infant on his/her back with a reminder to indicate which way to position the infant's head within the sleep positioner. Specifically, the INFANT SAFETY SYSTEM described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,213,281 B2, issued May 8, 2007 to Hahn, includes a concave back support and abdominal support for positioning an infant on its side. The position marker is attached to the infant positioner with Velcro and may be moved from side to side to indicate how to position the infant within the positioner. The position marker is intended to remind the parent to alternate the positioning of the infant to help ensure the infant does not spend too much time with his/her head on one side.

While current products appear helpful in reducing the instances of SIDS and plagiocephaly, there is still room for improvement in the areas of convenience and versatility for sleep aids in general, sleep position indicators in particular. Similarly, it is believed that the breathability features of infant sleep positioners can be enhanced to further reduce cases of sudden infant death. Accordingly, there is a need for a more versatile sleep position indicator that it is simpler to use, thereby encouraging its use.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides, in one sense, a sleep aid for use as a reminder of how to orient an individual on a sleeping or resting surface, such as a pad, to help reduce instances of plagiocephaly. In another sense, the invention relates to a pad construction upon which an individual can rest or sleep, which pad construction greatly reduces, if not altogether eliminates, the chance of suffocation. The ordinarily skilled artisan will appreciate that each of these advantages can be realized individually or together in a common sleep aid.

While various terms may be used throughout the description to follow, each one of these terms should certainly not be construed in a limiting sense. For example, while the description to follow describes the various embodiments in the context of an infant either resting or asleep on a sleep aid, it should be appreciated that the teachings herein can be employed with any suitably sized and configured sleep aid for which an individual might benefit. Thus, the individual need not be an infant, but could be a patient or other physically handicapped individual whose resting or sleeping position needs to be closely monitored and adjusted from time to time. Furthermore, the term “sleep” as used herein should not be construed in a limiting sense to imply that the various embodiments can only be employed in circumstances where an individual needs to actually fall asleep, but rather more broadly contemplates any circumstance in which an individual might need to assume a reposed position or otherwise be positioned on a surface in a particular manner, wherein such environment might benefit from a position reminder system as discussed herein. Finally, where various device constructions are described for use with an infant to alleviate, if not eliminate, the risk of suffocation, other individuals could likewise benefit from the teachings herein. Infants, for example, are not physically developed to the extent that they have sufficient muscle control in the neck and other regions to move their head from side to side without assistance. The same could be true for individuals of any age having physical conditions which also require the assistance of caretakers. Then, such individuals could also benefit from the teachings herein.

In accordance with the above objectives, broadly provided is a sleep aid in the form of an infant sleep positioner, which comprises a cushion that includes an elongate pad of selected size and configuration. A sleep position indicator is movably disposed on the sleep aid. The sleep position indicator is movable between a first position which visually informs a first head position for the individual and a second position which visually informs a second head position for the individual. Preferred embodiments relate to an infant sleep aid for use in reducing a risk of plagiocephaly.

A casing preferably surrounds the pad and has a bottom panel for confronting the support surface and a top panel providing a support for the infant when placed thereon. This top panel has a head portion.

In one embodiment, an infant sleep positioner for supporting an infant upon a support surface, includes a cushion where the upper surface may be oriented at an acute angle with respect to the lower surface such that the upper surface is inclined relative to the support surface along a longitudinal axis extending between first and second end portions of the pad.

In this embodiment the sleep positioner also includes a sleep position indicator including a flap that is movably attached relative to the cushion between a first position to inform a first position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner, and a second position to inform a second position of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner. The flap includes first indicia corresponding to a first body position of the infant, and a second side of the flap includes second indicia corresponding to a second body position of the infant. The indicia may include a depiction of an animal's head for respectively informing first and second head positions of the infant with respect to the infant sleep positioner.

The sleep positioner's pad extends along a longitudinal axis, and wherein the flap is movably disposed in opposite directions that are each parallel to the longitudinal axis. Alternatively, the pad extends along a longitudinal axis, and wherein the flap is movably disposed in opposite directions that are each transverse to the longitudinal axis. The sleep positioner may also include a casing that substantially surrounds the pad and supports the flap. The flap is attached to the casing and may project away from the casing.

In yet another embodiment the cushion includes a first downwardly sloping concave surface configured to support a back of an infant when placed against it, the concave surface having a slope within a range of 20 degrees to 85 degrees, inclusively. The cushion also includes a second upwardly sloping surface configured to support a stomach and/or chest of the infant. The first downwardly sloping concave surface and the second upwardly sloping surface are part of a continuous surface which does not contain any substantially flat portion therebetween. The cushion includes a pad defining the continuous surface and a casing that substantially surrounds the pad, and wherein the flap is attached to the casing. In this embodiment the pad is elongate to accommodate an infant when placed thereon in a reposed position such that the infant extends along a longitudinal axis of the pad, and wherein the flap is movably disposed in opposite directions that are each parallel to the longitudinal axis.

The sleep positioners may further comprise a positioning member or plurality of positioning members each of a selected size and configuration supported on the upper surface of the pad. The positioning members are releasably attached relative to the cushion.

Also contemplated is a method for reducing a risk of plagiocephaly in infants. According to the method, an elongate cushion and a sleep position indicator are provided. The sleep position indicator is placed in either a first or second position. The infant is placed in a reposed position on the support such that the infant's head is orientated in one of a first and second direction. The infant remains in this position for a selected interval of time, after which the sleep position indicator may be moved to the other position and the infant may be re-situated with his/her head orientated in the other direction.

These and other objects of the present invention will become more readily appreciated and understood from a consideration of the following detailed description of the exemplary embodiments when taken together with the accompanying drawings, in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an infant asleep in a reposed position on an infant sleep aid according to a first exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view, partially broken away, of the infant sleep aid of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3(a) is a top plan view of the infant sleep aid shown in FIG. 1, and with the infant depicted in a first sleep position;

FIG. 3(b) is a top plan view of the infant sleep aid shown in FIG. 1, and with the infant asleep in a second sleep position;

FIG. 4 is a bottom perspective view of the infant sleep aid with its sleep position indicator in a first position as shown in FIG. 3(a);

FIG. 5 is a bottom perspective view of an alternative construction for the first exemplary embodiment of the infant sleep aid;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the sleep position indicator for use with the various embodiments described herein;

FIG. 7 is a front view in elevation of the sleep position indicator introduced in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a second exemplary embodiment for an infant sleep aid;

FIG. 9 is a right side view in elevation of the infant sleep aid shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a third exemplary embodiment of an infant sleep aid;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a fourth exemplary embodiment of an infant sleep aid;

FIG. 12 is a partial view of a fifth exemplary embodiment of an infant sleep aid;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a sixth exemplary embodiment of an infant sleep aid; and

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a seventh exemplary embodiment of an infant sleep aid.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Initial reference is made to FIG. 1 which introduces a first exemplary embodiment of a sleep aid 10. Sleep aid 10 is sized and adapted for use with an infant 12 and, to this end, can be considered an infant sleep aid. Sleep aid 10 broadly comprises a support shown here to be in the form of a cushion 14 and a sleep position indicator 16. Support 14 is a wedge-shaped cushion employed as a sleep positioner. This cushion is constructed similarly to the support cushion used in the INFANT SUPPORT SYSTEM described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,877,176 B2, issued Apr. 12, 2005 to Houghteling, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

As such, and with reference to FIG. 2, the sleep aid's support cushion 14 is generally constructed of a casing 18 which receives a resilient pad 20 in a close-fitted relationship. Further, casing 18 can be constructed of various panel sections including a head panel 22 and foot panel 24, which have respective confronting edges and are stitched or otherwise joined (permanently or releasably) together to form junction 26. Head and foot panels 22 and 24, thus, form a continuous, two-piece top panel 28 which may be joined to a one-piece bottom panel 30 (FIGS. 4 & 5) about the majority of its peripheral margin.

While there are a variety of materials which can be employed for cushion 14, it has been surprisingly found that certain materials in combination can be employed to substantially reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of suffocation during use. To this end, head panel portion 22 is preferably a 100% polyester or “sandwich fabric” currently utilized, for example, in various infant-related products marketed by Basic Comfort, Inc. of Denver, Colo. under the trademark Flothru™. Further, it is desired that foot panel 24 be formed as a tri-layer polyester construction that includes an outer layer that is 100% polyester tricot, a bottom layer that is 100% polyester fine mesh, and an intermediate layer that is 100% polyester fiber. The remainder of the casing may also be formed of this material but could, alternatively, be formed of a fabric that is 50% cotton and 50% polyester. The materials for the casing are, therefore, consistent with those described in the above-incorporated '176 patent to Houghteling.

It is thought, however, to be unique to utilize such a casing construction in conjunction with a resilient pad 20 that is preferably formed as a 100% polyurethane open cell foam, sometimes referred to as reticulated foam. Recently, foam of this type has enjoyed widespread use in outdoor applications, such as cushions for outdoor patio furniture, due to its fast-drying characteristics and ease of cleaning. Reticulated foam allows bodily fluids to pass straight through pad 20 which helps to provide a drier surface for the infant to lie on. Cleaning reticulated foam is also much easier because the fluid does not absorb into the pad. Indeed, these pads have traditionally been formed of regular closed cell foam or memory foam, which has the tendency to trap fluids, thus making them more difficult to clean. It has been found that when reticulated foam is used in conjunction with the Flothru™ material, or equivalent, there is an additional advantage of breathability which can help prevent suffocation. Accordingly, one of the aspects of the teachings herein is the provision of a sleep aid which exhibits one or a combination of the characteristics of breathability to substantially reduce the risk of suffocation, resistance to absorbing fluid, and quick-drying. The ordinarily skilled artisan would appreciate that various articles of manufacture having suitable configurations could be designed to accomplish such objectives including, but not limited to, pads, blankets, mats, positioning members, sleep positioners for individuals, such as infants, and support systems for infants and other individuals.

Refer now to FIGS. 3(a), 3(b) and 4 which introduce certain characteristics of the sleep position indicator 16 and its use in conjunction with cushion 14 to create the sleep aid 10. Sleep position indicator 16 is preferably an elongate member which is movable relative to the cushion between first and second positions corresponding to first and second sleep positions for the infant. Thus, as shown in FIG. 3(a), sleep position indicator 16 is in a first position relative to cushion 14 so that it provides a directional reminder of how to orient the infant 12 during sleep. FIG. 3(b) shows the sleep position indicator 16 moved into a second position to provide a second directional reminder for orienting the infant 12. It has been found, as mentioned above in the background section, that plagiocephaly can be prevented, or its risk reduced, by alternating infants between sleeping positions such as shown in FIGS. 3(a) and 3(b). However, those who have raised children are intimately familiar with the arduous task at hand. When a parent is immersed in trying to handle the numerous responsibilities involved, it can be difficult to keep one's mind focused on a baby's sleeping position when even one child is involved, let alone multiples. Accordingly, the invention, in one of its forms as described herein, provides a convenient reminder system which can greatly facilitate this process.

Thus, if an infant is placed in an initial sleeping position in which he/she is facing the left side (from the prospective of the infant), the sleep position indicator 16 can be moved to a corresponding position (i.e. the right side as viewed from the top in FIG. 3(a)) so that it visibly protrudes from the right side of the cushion 14. The sleep position indicator 16 can then be moved to its second position as shown in FIG. 3(b) so that a caretaker is reminded that the infant 12 should be placed such that he/she is facing the right side during the next sleeping interval. Depending on a caretaker's particular preference, the sleep position indicator 16 could be moved prior, during, or after a given sleep interval to serve as a reminder of either the previous or next orientation for the infant.

With the above understanding in mind, a preferred construction for locating the sleep position indicator 16 relative to the cushion is shown in FIG. 4. Here, sleeve 32 is sewn or otherwise affixed to the covering's bottom panel 30 to provide a slideway 34 along which the sleep position indicator 16 travels between the first and second reminder positions. Of course, one or more suitably sized loops could also be used in place of an elongate sleeve to create a slideway.

An alternative construction which has been contemplated is shown in FIG. 5 wherein spaced-apart button holes 36(1) and 36(2) are formed in the bottom panel to define a slideway 34(1) between bottom panel 30 and the interior foam along which the sleep position indicator 16 travels. In each of the constructions illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5, it may be appreciated that sleep position indicator 16 spans a majority of a dimension of the cushion, in this case its shorter transverse width. However, other configurations for sleep aids are contemplated which could benefit from a longitudinal dimension of the cushion. Such a construction, for example, is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 7,213,281 B2, issued May 8, 2007 to Hahn and assigned to the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, the disclosure of which is also incorporated by reference in its entirety. Of course, the artisan should appreciate that an elongate, slideable sleep position indicator such as described in the present application could be incorporated into the bottom panel or other area of the infant positioner without departing from the inventive concepts contained herein.

Refer now to FIGS. 6 and 7 which illustrate a preferred construction for the sleep position indicator 16. Sleep position indicator 16 is an elongate symmetrical construction having a narrow band portion 40 and a pair of opposed, and relatively enlarged, tabs 42(1) and 42(2) joined to band portion 40. Depending on one's perspective, tab 42(1) can be considered the left tab, while tab 42(2) can be considered the right tab. Band 40 serves as a slider to allow sleep position indicator 16 to move between the first and second (i.e. left and right) reminder positions as discussed above. It is, therefore, preferred that the tabs be enlarged relative to the band, as best shown in FIG. 6, to prevent inadvertent removal of the sleep position indicator from the slideway in which its band travels. As also shown in FIG. 6, each of the tabs 42(1) and 42(2) includes indicia to assist in reminding a caretaker of the next or previous position intended for the infant, whichever the case may be. Thus, left tab 42(1) includes indicia 44(1) corresponding to an infant's head facing to the left, while right tab 42(2) is provided with indicia 44(2) corresponding to an infant's head facing to the right. As may be appreciated with reference to FIG. 7, each of the indicia 44(1) and 44(2) may be formed as raised portions on their respective tabs 42(1) and 42(2). Of course, various other constructions for the sleep position indicator 16 are contemplated which would be suitable for accomplishing the purposes described herein. For example, relief indicia, as opposed to raised indicia, could be provided. The indicia could be accomplished by a suitable sticker or other material affixed to the tabs and, of course, other types of indicia could be provided such as “N” to indicate the next orientation for the baby or “P” to indicate the previous position for the baby. Indeed, the shapes of the tabs themselves could provide the suitable reminder system. For example, the tabs could be configured as arrow heads to indicate position.

A suitable material for sleep position indicator 16 is a food grade rubber or plastic so that it has the characteristics of being able to be cleaned. Furthermore, it is preferred that the material have some degree of flexibility so that the tabs can be manipulated to allow for insertion and removal of the indicator relative to the cushion where a construction, such as employed above, is provided where the tabs are enlarged relative to the sleeve or button holes. A thermoplastic elastomer of choice is commonly marketed under the designation 95A TPE.

With the foregoing in mind, alternative constructions for sleep aids which are contemplated are briefly discussed with reference to the remaining figures. In FIGS. 8 and 9, a sleep aid 110 is illustrated which preferably corresponds to that described in my co-pending application Ser. No. 12/013,382, filed Jan. 11, 2008 and entitled FORMABLE SLEEP POSITIONER ALONG WITH METHOD FOR ADJUSTING SAME. Sleep aid 110 is in the form of an adjustable infant sleep positioner which can have its head portion 112 inclined relative to its base 114. Here, sleep position indicator 116 may be suitably provided so that it spans transversely across the positioner in a slideway formed in base portion 114, as representatively shown.

Other forms of sleep aids are shown in FIGS. 10 and 11 to be in the form of substantially planar pads. In FIG. 10, sleep aid 210 is constructed as a thin pad having a head portion 222 and a foot portion 224 as discussed above, along with the sleep position indicator 216 projecting laterally from the head portion 222. Sleep aid 310, on the other hand, is formed as a thin pad with its entire top panel 328 corresponding to that discussed above with reference to foot panel portion 24 (see FIG. 2). Here, sleep position indicator 316 runs medially along the longitudinal side edge(s) of the sleep aid. The sleep aids of FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrate that any suitably configured pad, or even a sheet, could be devised and constructed to allow for the use of a sleep position indicator as described. Thus, the teachings herein should not be unduly limited to any particular construction for the cushions, pads, sheets, etc. which incorporate the sleep position indicator.

Furthermore, the teachings herein should not be unduly limited to any particular construction of the sleep position indicator. For example, FIG. 12 illustrates a portion of a sleep aid 410 with a sleep position indicator 416 in the form of a flap. In this embodiment the sleep aid includes a cushion 414 that includes pad 420 encased by a top panel 428 and a bottom panel 430. Flap 416 is supported by top panel 428. It should be understood that flap 416 could be disposed anywhere on the sleep aid such that the flap is visible and movable from a first position d1 to inform a first position of an infant to a second position d2 to inform a second position of the infant. Accordingly, flap 416 could be attached to a horizontal, vertical, or angled surfaces of the sleep aid. Furthermore, the flap could be removably or permanently disposed on other portions of the cushion 414, rather than the casing itself.

In another embodiment, shown in FIG. 13, sleep aid 510 is comprised of a wedge shaped cushion 514 with a surrounding casing 524 and having a longitudinal axis L1. Infant 512 extends along axis L1 in a reposed position. Sleep position indicator flap 516 projects from cushion 514 wherein flap 516 is movable in opposite directions that are each transverse to the longitudinal axis L1. That is, as viewed from the top down in FIGS. 12 and 13, it moves left or right. Flap 516 also includes indicia 544. In this embodiment indicia 544 includes a depiction of an animal's head for informing of a head position of an infant. As shown in the figure, indicia 544 is that of a baby's head facing in the direction of the infant's, thereby indicating the current head position of the infant. Both sides of the flap include indicia for indicating the infants respective head position. FIG. 13 also illustrates that the sleep aid may include positioning members 550(1) and 550(2), one or more of which may be movably disposed on the upper surface of cushion 514, as described more thoroughly in the above-incorporated '176 patent to Houghteling.

In yet another embodiment, shown in FIG. 14, infant 612 lies in a reposed position on sleep aid 610 along the cushion's 614 longitudinal axis L2. In this embodiment sleep position indicator 616 is movably disposed on cushion 614 in opposite directions that are each parallel to the longitudinal axis L2. Here again, the sleep position indicator may be attached at various locations relative to the sleep aid. For example, an alternate location for the flap is indicated by flap 616′, located on a front vertical surface of sleep aid 610. The particular construction of cushion 614 is described more thoroughly in the above-incorporated '281 patent to Hahn.

With the foregoing in mind, a method is also contemplated for recording one of a next or previous sleep positions for an individual, such as an infant or other person in need of assistance. According to the method, an infant positioner is provided having a cushion of a selected size and configuration along with a sleep position indicator, preferably in the form of a flap attached to the cushion. The sleep indicator is operative to move between one of a first position to inform a first position of an infant and a second position to inform a second position of the infant. Other features of the various methods contemplated by the present invention should be readily recognized from the previous description of the exemplary embodiments.

Accordingly, the present invention has been described with some degree of particularity directed to the exemplary embodiments thereof. It should be appreciated, though, that the present invention is defined by the following claims construed in light of the prior art so that modifications or changes may be made to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention without departing from the inventive concepts contained herein.