Title:
Infant play environment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An infant play environment includes a padded mat on which the infant can be supported, a plurality of wall members foldably attached to the mat and supported by removable and reducible rigid members, with at least an opposing pair of said wall members engaging a toy bar extending over and above the mat. The environment is reconfigurable for use as a mat, a tunnel, a four walled enclosure and is foldable for storage.



Inventors:
Reese, Bradford (Atlanta, GA, US)
Burns, Stephen (Cumming, GA, US)
Mendes, Mark (Loganville, GA, US)
Weeter, Brice (Alpharetta, GA, US)
Application Number:
12/070659
Publication Date:
08/20/2009
Filing Date:
02/20/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47D13/06; A47D15/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SMITH, GAMBRELL & RUSSELL (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An infant play environment which may be selectively disposed in one of several modes for placing an infant thereon, comprising: An internal mat suitable for receiving an infant thereon; A plurality of side panels secured to said internal mat for selective placement at an upright, horizontal, or folded position said side panels containing reinforcing members which can be reduced in dimension to facilitate storage; At least one toy bar, detachably affixed to at least two side panels and said mat, for supporting one or more infant toys thereon.

2. An infant play environment as described in claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of sleeves adapted to receive the ends of said toy bars and affixed in opposition on said side panels; A fastener affixed to each end of said toy bars and adapted to pass through said sleeves for attachment to said mat.

3. An infant play environment as described in claim 1 wherein said side panels are reinforced by an insert within said panels.

4. An infant play environment as described in claim 1 wherein said side panel reinforced by an insert which can be varied in length for storage or transportation of said play environment.

5. An infant play environment as described in claim 4, further comprising: a plurality of sleeves adapted to receive the ends of said toy bars and affixed in opposition on said side panels; A fastener affixed to each end of said toy bars and adapted to pass through said sleeves for attachment to said mat.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of juvenile products and specifically to devices on which an infant is placed to engage in play activities. In greater particularity the present invention relates to a portable environment in which an infant may be placed on the floor.

The typical infant play gym is constructed of a flat play mat to which a pair of toy bars are attached. This design results in several shortcomings. Most significantly, because the mat lacks vertical walls surrounding the play surface, the mat does not provide the sense of security which is important to the youngest users nor does it prevent older users from easily rolling off the mat or otherwise losing their view of and proximity to the attached toys. Additionally, toys placed on the play mat can easily be pushed beyond the boundaries of the mat and out of reach of the infant or perhaps removed by household pets.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the short comings of cited above and provides other use modes for infants as they grow.

It is an object of the present invention to extend the life of a typical infant play gym by including additional modes of use.

Another object of the invention is to deter interference from pets as well as pet's access to the infant's toys.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a play gym that is easily and compactly stored.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An infant play environment is depicted in the accompanying drawings which form a portion of this disclosure and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the invention showing the various components;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of one embodiment of the invention with the walls down.

FIG. 4 is a view of the fabric walls of the invention, open to receive internal supports;

FIG. 5 is a view of a wall flap in the closed position;

FIG. 6, is a side elevational view of the wall with the toy bar mount attached;

FIG. 7 is side elevational view of one embodiment of a side wall stiffener;

FIG. 8 is a detail view of the corner flap in a flattened position;

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of a second embodiment of a side wall stiffener;

FIG. 10 is a front elevational view of an embodiment of a toy bar; and

FIG. 11 is a detailed view of a toy bar attachment.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the FIGS. 1-11 for a clearer understanding of the invention, it may be seen that the preferred embodiment of the invention contemplates an interior mat 11 of a generally four sided shape to which is attached four side panels 12, 14, 16, and 18. The term mat is intended to include padded structures which may be made of one or more layers of material having qualities appropriate for comfortably supporting an infant. Thus the invention may comprise a combination of metal, plastic and fabric components.

It is envisioned that the four side panels are permanently attached to the sides of the interior mat 11 and that the connection will allow the panels to fold over or under the interior mat 11. Each panel may be oriented at approximately 90 degrees relative to mat 11 and cooperate to form four walls which enclose mat 11. To maintain the panels in their upright position, the panels may have one or more assembly tabs 22 attached thereto which can be detachably affixed to an adjacent panel at the corners of mat 11. It will be understood that the tabs may be detachably affixed to the adjacent panel by any suitable means including hook and loop fasteners, snap fasteners, or buttons. Typically, the invention will utilize two long panels 12 and 14 and two short panels 16 and 18 such that the upstanding panels surround a rectangular mat. When the panels are coplanar with the mat 11, the tabs 22 fill the corner interstices to complete a generally oval shape as shown in FIGS. 2 & 3. In one embodiment Panels 12, 14, 16, and 18 are of multilayer construction and each form a pocket 24 with an overlying flap 24a as shown in FIGS. 4 & 5 which can be used to close the pocket. Each pocket 24 is sized to receive a plastic wall insert 26 which will be retained in pocket 24 by securing the associated flap with a hook and loop fastener, snap, button or the like. The plastic wall inserts 26 give the panels rigidity and allow them to be supported vertically to confine the infant or impede a nosey pet.

Each plastic wall insert 26 is a two piece construction such that the length of the insert may be reduced to facilitate storage of the article or to allow the invention to be carried in a smaller tote bag. The plastic walls may be of a cantilevered interlocking construction having two wall sections 28 &30 as depicted in FIG. 7. Alternatively wall 26 may be made of two wall sections 27 and 29 joined by a pin or rivet 31 sections placed above or below the horizontal centerline of the sections (note—this sentence may be too specific, but the safety call out is a good justification; might want to delete) to allow the sections to rotate between the use and storage orientation. Because the fastener pin or rivet is offset from the center point of the vertical axis of the wall, the wall cannot be inserted into the pocket if the sections are still in the storage position.

Panels 12 and 14 have a plurality of opposing sleeves 33 attached to their outer surface. The sleeves 33 receive the ends 41 of a toy bar 35 which spans the mat at a height sufficient to allow a number of toys to be suspended there from. The toy bar is a padded wire assembly (new one will be fiberglass) with a fabric strap 36 sewn to the end. Fabric strap 36 has a hook and loop patch sewn thereon for mating engagement with a cooperative hook and loop patch sewn to the underside of mat 11. The straps connect to the bottom of the mat to secure the toy bar in position. It should be understood that with at least one toy bar engaged in the sleeves on opposite panels 12 and 14 these panels can be maintained vertically and panels 16 and 18 disposed horizontally to form a “tunnel” play environment for an infant who has begun to crawl.

It is to be understood that the form of the invention shown is a preferred embodiment thereof and that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention or scope as defined in the following claims.