Title:
Baby Supporting Chair
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baby supporting chair (1) is provided that comprises a generally rigid outer support shell (2) of generally dome shape with a lower periphery (3) for supporting the chair (1), directly or indirectly, on a generally horizontal surface. The outer support shell (2) has, in plan view, a baby receiving zone in a central region for receiving at least a lower trunk of a baby, in use. At least one, and typically two, channels (5) extend from the central region for receiving, in use, the legs of a baby projecting outwards generally beyond an outer extremity of the outer support shell (2). A baby restraining member, typically in the form of a pillar, inhibits a baby from sliding out of the chair (1). A relatively flexible inner baby support member (7) is attached to the outer support member to provide a relatively flexible seat (11) portion, a backrest (12) portion, and sidewall (13) portions to the baby receiving zone.



Inventors:
Visser, Hendrik Schalk (Hermanus, ZA)
Application Number:
14/760840
Publication Date:
12/10/2015
Filing Date:
11/22/2013
Assignee:
Snappi Holdings (Pty) Ltd. (Pretoria, ZA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
297/183.6, 297/239, 297/452.1
International Classes:
A47D1/00; A47D15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRINDLEY, TIMOTHY J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REMENICK PLLC (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A baby supporting chair comprising a generally rigid outer support shell of generally dome shape with a lower periphery for supporting the chair, directly or indirectly, on a generally horizontal surface and wherein the outer support shell has, in plan view, a baby receiving zone in a central region of the outer support shell for receiving at least a lower trunk of a baby, in use, and at least one channel extending from the central region for receiving, in use, the legs of a baby projecting outwards, optionally beyond an outer extremity of the outer support shell, with a baby restraining member associated with the chair for inhibiting a baby from sliding into the at least one channel, wherein the outer support shell is made of injection moulded thermoplastic material and wherein a relatively flexible inner baby support member made of an injection moulded elastomer is attached to the outer support member to provide a relatively flexible seat portion, a backrest portion, and sidewall portions to the baby receiving zone that communicates with the at least one channel, wherein the inner baby support member has an edge region that is attached to the moulded outer support shell by a bond selected from a mechanical bond; a chemical bond; an adhesive bond; and any combination thereof.

2. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which there is a pair of channels extending from the central region for receiving, in use, the legs of a baby with the baby restraining member being in the form of a pillar formation separating the two channels.

3. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the generally rigid outer support shell is made of an injection moulded thermoplastic material having a wall thickness of from 1.5 to 5 mm.

4. (canceled)

5. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the material of the inner baby support member has a shore A hardness of between 30 and 60 with a wall thickness of from 0.05 to 4 mm, and a tensile strength at break of from 1200 to 1600 psi/MPa.

6. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the inner baby support member has an edge region that is over-moulded onto a moulded outer support shell to form a bi-material assembly extending around the periphery of the baby receiving zone with a bond between the two moulded materials being selected from a laminar mechanical bond having its origins at least partially in a thermal differential between the temperature of the over-moulded material during its moulding and that of the outer support shell; a mechanical bond that includes keying formations selected from perforations, protrusions and recesses on the outer support shell; a bond that includes at least some chemical bonding to the outer support shell, an adhesive bond; and any combination of the foresaid.

7. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 6 in which the outer support member has an inwardly lipped periphery to selected regions of the baby receiving zone in order to provide a continuous attachment surface surrounding the baby receiving zone in which the material of the inner baby support member overlaps the material of the outer support shell that includes regions of the sidewalls to the channels and the bottom of the pillar onto which an edge of the inner baby support member is over-moulded.

8. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the under surface of the channels of the outer support shell have integral legs extending downwards so as to form additional support for the outer support shell in the region of the channels.

9. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 8 in which suction cups are attached to the integral legs.

10. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the lower periphery of the outer support shell is generally circular.

11. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the lower periphery of the outer support shell is generally circular and is provided with a circumferential enlarged rib or a series of formations extending around the periphery and cooperating with co-operating formations on a stiffening ring configured to maintain a substantially fixed circular shape to the lower periphery of the outer support shell, or both.

12. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 2 in which the pillar formation has formations in an upper region thereof for releasably receiving co-operating formations on a removable tray that spans gaps between the pillar and adjacent upper ends of the two channels.

13. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 12 in which the formations on the pillar and tray cooperate in a clipping relationship with a clip being releasable only from a front of the tray by a release mechanism that is substantially inoperable by a baby occupying the baby seat.

14. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the outer support shell together with the inner baby support member are stackable for transport, storage and display purposes.

15. A baby supporting chair as claimed in claim 1 in which the outer support shell has handles, or cut-outs in the lower periphery that serve as handles, whereby the baby supporting chair can be lifted with a baby in it.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a baby supporting chair and, more particularly, to a baby supporting chair that is aimed at supporting an infant that has reached the stage of holding its own head up but has not yet reached a stage at which it can support itself in a stable sitting position.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

It is well-known that babies pass through a stage of their development during which they like to look around and observe their surroundings and surrounding activities, but are not yet able to hold themselves up in a sitting position. It has been common practice to prop up a baby with pillows or cushions in order to achieve this objective.

In more recent times, baby supporting chairs have become available that serve to support an infant in a sitting position in a comfortable manner. A popular type of such a chair of which applicant is aware is that which is sold internationally under the trade name “BUMBO”. That chair is more fully described in international patent publication number WO0065965.

However, the construction of those chairs inherently has, in applicant's view, drawbacks in that there have been reported instances of instability of the chair leading to them toppling over consequent on movement of a baby. This can be highly dangerous if the supporting chair is supported on an elevated surface. Indeed, these chairs have been provided with additional warnings that they should be used only on a floor and an with infant retaining harness or strap in order to prevent an infant from climbing or falling out of the chair.

A competitive product in the market place is a moulded expanded polypropylene two-part baby supporting chair having a seat part and a tray part that fit together for storage or use; in the latter instance the two parts are assembled with a baby inside the seat. The difficulty with such a seat is that the material is rather rigid and a baby together with its apparel must yield to conform to the shape of the chair. Such baby supporting chairs are sold under the trade name “Cushi Tush”.

Conventional baby seating systems such the “high chair” and the like are rigid and uncomfortable and may not provide sufficient lateral support.

Applicant has, in consequence, developed an baby supporting chair that provides a good level of support and is comfortable whilst alleviating or avoiding one or more difficulties experienced with prior art baby supporting chairs of which applicant is aware.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with this invention there is provided a baby supporting chair comprising a generally rigid outer support shell of generally dome shape with a lower periphery for supporting the chair, directly or indirectly, on a generally horizontal surface and wherein the outer support shell has, in plan view, a baby receiving zone in a central region of the outer support shell for receiving at least a lower trunk of a baby, in use, and at least one channel extending from the central region for receiving, in use, the legs of a baby projecting outwards, optionally beyond an outer extremity of the outer support shell, with a baby restraining member associated with the chair for inhibiting a baby from sliding into the at least one channel, and a relatively flexible inner baby support member attached to the outer support member to provide a relatively flexible seat portion, a backrest portion, and sidewall portions to the baby receiving zone that communicates with the at least one channel.

Further features of the invention provide for there to be a pair of channels extending from the central region for receiving, in use, the legs of a baby with the baby restraining member being in the form of a pillar formation separating the two channels; for the generally rigid outer support shell to be made of an injection moulded thermoplastic material such as a suitable polypropylene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene terephthalate, polybutylene terephthalate, or polyvinyl chloride; for the plastics material of the outer support shell to have a wall thickness of from 1.5 to 5 mm, preferably from 2 to 3 mm; for the inner relatively flexible baby support member to be made of an injection moulded elastomer such as a suitable thermoplastic polyurethane, ethylene propylene diene monomer, or silicone rubber; and for the plastics material of the inner baby support member to have a shore hardness (A-inst) of between 30 and 60 and preferably about 35-45 with a wall thickness of from 0.05 to 4 mm, preferably from 0.75 to 2 mm and a tensile strength at break (psi/(MPa)) of from 1200 to 1600, and preferably 1300 to 1400.

Still further features of the invention provide for the inner baby support member to have an edge region that is over-moulded onto the outer support shell to form a bi-material assembly extending around the periphery of the baby receiving zone with a bond between the two plastic materials being formed as a laminar mechanical bond that may have its origins at least partially in a thermal differential between the temperature of the over-moulded material during its moulding, and/or a mechanical bond that includes keying formations such as perforations, protrusions or recesses on the outer support shell, a bond that includes at least some chemical bonding to the outer support shell, an adhesive bond and any combination of the foresaid; for the outer support member to have an inwardly lipped periphery to selected regions of the baby receiving zone in order to provide a continuous attachment surface surrounding the baby receiving zone onto which the over-moulded material is moulded; and for the flange to merge with sidewalls to the channels and the bottom of the pillar to form the substantially continuous surface onto which an edge of the inner baby support member is over-moulded.

Yet further features of the invention provide for the lower periphery of the outer support shell to be generally circular; for the lower periphery to be provided with a circumferential enlarged rib or a series of formations extending around the periphery and cooperating with co-operating formations on a stiffening ring configured to maintain a substantially fixed circular shape to the lower periphery of the outer support shell, or both; for the under surface of the channels of the outer support shell to have optionally integral legs extending downwards so as to form additional support for the outer support shell in the region of the channels; and for the legs to have suction cups or the like permanently or removably attached thereto.

Additional features of the invention provide for the pillar formation to have formations in an upper region thereof for releasably receiving co-operating formations on a removable tray that spans gaps between the pillar and adjacent upper ends of the two channels; for the formations on the pillar and tray to cooperate in a clipping relationship with the clip being releasable only from a front of the tray, preferably by a release mechanism substantially inoperable by a baby occupying the baby seat; for the formations on the pillar to be adapted to cooperate with co-operating formations on a selection of different activity items that can be selected according to a user's desires or requirements from items such as movable handles, a steering wheel, an electronic gadget that could resemble a computer, an electronic game of some sort or a music playing device; and for the outer support shell together with the inner baby support member to be stackable (generally with any tray removed from the pillar formation) for transport, storage and display purposes.

Preferably the outer support shell has handles or cut-outs in the lower periphery that serve as handles whereby the baby supporting chair can be lifted with a baby in it. Also, the diameter of the lower periphery of the outer support shell is selected to provide required stability of the baby supporting chair, in use.

The inner baby support member may be configured such that the seat bottoms out onto a supporting surface if a baby weighs more than a particular amount. In the alternative, a bean bag type of “cushion” may be provided on the underside of the seat so that the seat can deform according to the shape of a baby sitting in the baby seat.

The inner baby support member is preferably configured so that it flexes according to the shape and size of a baby supported by it.

In order that the above and other features of the invention may be more fully understood one embodiment thereof will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings:—

FIG. 1 is a front elevation of one embodiment of baby supporting chair according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear elevation thereof;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation thereof;

FIG. 4 is a plan view thereof;

FIG. 5 is a three-dimensional view taken from the top toward one side of the baby supporting chair;

FIG. 6 is a three-dimensional view taken from the bottom toward one side of the baby supporting chair with the removable tray and stiffening ring removed;

FIG. 7 is a sectioned three-dimensional view taken from the top toward one side of the baby supporting chair along line VII-VII in FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a cross-section taken along line VIII-VIII in FIG. 4;

FIG. 9 is a three-dimensional view taken from underneath and the rear of one variation of the baby supporting chair fitted with suction cups suitable for enabling the chair to be used as a bathing chair; and,

FIG. 10 is a three-dimensional view of a suction cup on its own.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION WITH REFERENCE TO THE DRAWINGS

In the embodiment of the invention illustrated in the drawings, a baby supporting chair (1) comprises a generally rigid outer support shell (2) of generally dome shape with a circular lower periphery (3) for supporting the chair on a generally horizontal surface. The circular lower periphery has a diameter selected to provide suitable stability to the baby supporting chair and in this instance the diameter is about 400 mm.

A baby receiving zone is provided for receiving at least a lower trunk of a baby in a central region of the outer support shell, in use, and a pair of deep channels (5) extends from the central baby receiving zone for accommodating or receiving, in use, outwardly projecting legs of a baby. The legs, especially the feet, would typically extend beyond the outer extremity of the outer support shell. A pillar formation (6) separates the two channels and forms a baby restraining member as defined above.

A relatively flexible inner baby support member (7) is attached to a peripheral region of the outer support member that encircles the baby receiving zone to provide a flexible seat (11), a backrest (12) and sidewalls (13). A major portion of the backrest is flexible with an upper portion being rigid where the flexible material of the baby support member overlaps the relatively rigid material of the outer support member. The sidewalls (13) are flexible apart from upper and forward regions where the flexible material of the baby support member overlaps the relatively rigid material of the outer support member. The flexible inner baby support member (7) also communicates with, and overlaps, a portion of the deep channels where it is likewise rigid.

The generally rigid outer support shell is made of an injection moulded thermoplastic material that in this instance is a suitable polypropylene material having a thickness of about 2-3 mm.

The generally rigid outer support is shaped to provide armrest formations (14) on each side of the central baby receiving zone.

The lower periphery of the outer support shell is generally circular and has a circumferentially extending enlarged rib (15) that cooperates with co-operating clipping formations (16) on a floor engaging stiffening ring (17) configured to maintain a substantially fixed circular shape to the lower periphery of the outer support shell. The stiffening ring resists buckling of the dome in case a baby kicks or moves quickly with a jerky movement. Two diametrically opposite cut-outs (18) in the lower edge of the sides of the outer support shell serve as handles whereby the baby supporting seat can be lifted with a baby in it.

As shown particularly in FIGS. 5 to 8, the outer support member has, in the region of the backrest and sidewalls, an inwardly lipped periphery (20) to the baby receiving zone where the flexible material of the baby support member overlaps the relatively rigid material of the outer support member by being over-moulded onto it. This is arranged to provide a substantially continuous attachment surface surrounding the baby receiving zone and merging with the inner ends of the bottom and sidewalls (22) of the channels (5) and the lower part (23) of the pillar (6).

The overlap of the two materials in the backrest region passes over the entire area of the inwardly and downwardly directed lip (20) and onto the outer surface of the backrest. In the case of the armrests, the over-moulded edge region extends up the downwardly directed lip (20), over the armrests and a short distance onto the outer surface of the outer support member. The overlap continues down the height of the sidewalls to the channels and extends into the inner end regions of the channels and up the lower region of the pillar formation. The extent of the overlap may therefore vary around the periphery of the baby receiving zone with the overlap being sufficient to ensure satisfactory robustness and strength of the assembly.

The width of the inwardly lipped periphery (20) as well as the width of the other attachment areas such as between the flexible baby support member and relatively rigid outer support member in the region of the lower part of the pillar formation and the inner end regions of the pair of channels, may depend on the characteristics of the attachment of the material of the relatively flexible baby support member to the relatively rigid outer support member. At the present time the width of the overlap is preferably within the range of 20 to 50 mm. If required, the attachment may be assisted by one or more mechanical formations such as a large squat central protrusion that constitutes a keying formation (24) on the outside of the upper region of the backrest (see FIGS. 2 to 4).

The inner relatively flexible baby support member is an injection moulded elastomer material such as a suitable thermoplastic polyurethane that is over-moulded onto the outer support member so as to contact predetermined portions of the outer surface of the latter and form a mechanically bonded edge region of a bi-material assembly extending around the periphery of the baby receiving zone. The bond in this instance is primarily a laminar mechanical bond that may have at least a part of its origins in the thermal differential during moulding of the material of the flexible baby support member onto the previously moulded outer support member.

In this instance the plastics material of the inner baby support member has a thickness of about 0.75 to 2 mm; a shore hardness of about 35; and a tensile strength of about 1300. The inner support member is sufficiently flexible so that it can flex to accommodate different shapes and sizes of baby rather than the baby or its apparel having to adjust to a fixed size and shape of baby support member.

As shown most clearly in FIG. 7, the pillar formation (6) has catches (26) in on a top thereof for releasably receiving co-operating formations in the form of latches (27) on the underside of a removable tray (28) that, in its installed position, spans gaps between the upper region of the pillar and the adjacent upper edges (29) of the two channels in a forward region of the armrests. The catches on the pillar and the latches on the tray cooperate in a clipping relationship with the catches being releasable only from the front of the tray by a push type of release mechanism (31) that is substantially inoperable by a baby occupying the baby supporting seat. The presence of the tray prevents, or at least inhibits, a baby from climbing out of the baby supporting chair.

The formations on the pillar are suitable for cooperation, in the alternative, with substantially identical latches on a cover (32) (see FIG. 5) that is adapted to simply cover the upper end of the pillar formation if the tray is not required for use.

The formations on the pillar are also suitable for cooperation with co-operating formations on a selection of different activity items (not illustrated) that can be manufactured according to desires or requirements. Such activity items may include movable handles, a steering wheel, an electronic gadget that could resemble a computer, an electronic game of some sort or a music playing device.

Of course, the pillar itself is not essential to the invention and it may be replaced by any other suitable baby restraining member such as a transverse bar bridging a single channel or a suitable harness for restraining a baby within the baby receiving zone.

It is to be mentioned that a pair of integral legs (33) may extend downwards from the under surface of the channels of the outer support shell (see especially FIG. 6) so as to form additional support for the outer support shell in the region of the channels. The legs are dimensioned so that they approximately touch a supporting surface on which the baby chair is located.

In one instance, such legs could serve as additional support in the event that the outer support member is not sufficiently rigid to prevent the channels (5) from flexing downwards to an undesirable extent during use.

In another instance and as illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, such legs could be used as attachments for suction cups (34) that can serve as a securing mechanism for holding the baby supporting chair on the bottom of a bath, for example, so that the baby supporting chair can serve also as a bathing chair. The suction cups may each have an integral axially extending socket (35) that can engage a leg appropriately.

In the embodiment of the invention described above, the outer support shell together with the inner baby support member is stackable for transport and storage purposes with the tray or other activity item removed from the pillar formation.

The inner baby support member may be configured such that the seat bottoms out onto a supporting surface if a baby weighs more than a particular amount. In the alternative, a bean bag type of “cushion” may be provided on the underside of the seat so that the seat can deform according to the shape of a baby sitting in the baby seat.

From a manufacturing perspective, the outer support member, tray and stiffening ring can all be made in a one step moulding. The outer support member can then be inserted into a second mould for the over moulding of the elastomer of the inner baby support member onto the outer support member. Following the over moulding the stiffening ring can be installed on the lower periphery of the outer support member and, if required, the tray can be installed in its operative position.

The baby supporting chair according to this invention therefore has enhanced stability consequent on the relatively rigid outer shell and its generally rigid lower support periphery, whether or not it has associated with it a separate stiffening ring. The inner flexible baby support member that adapts more readily to the shape and size of a particular baby receives a baby more comfortably than a more rigid construction.

In at least the optional but preferred arrangement, the ability of the inner flexible baby support member to bottom out onto a supporting surface, either directly or by way of a cushion typically in the form of a bean bag, further enhances the performance of the baby supporting chair.

It will be understood that numerous variations may be made to the embodiment of the invention described above without departing from the scope thereof.