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United States Patent Application 20180035821
Kind Code A1
Bass-Conn; Linsay Michelle February 8, 2018

Breathable Baby Crib With Layered Detachable Mesh Walls

Abstract

A modular crib assembly with structures for providing layered, detachable mesh walls and other safety features is described. An optional insert for smaller children and a kit comprising the assembly components are further described.


Inventors: Bass-Conn; Linsay Michelle; (Okemos, MI)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Bass-Conn; Linsay Michelle

Okemos

MI

US
Family ID: 1000002950362
Appl. No.: 15/549800
Filed: February 2, 2016
PCT Filed: February 2, 2016
PCT NO: PCT/US16/16138
371 Date: August 9, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
62113996Feb 9, 2015

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A47D 9/00 20130101; A47D 15/008 20130101; A47C 21/08 20130101; A47D 7/00 20130101
International Class: A47D 9/00 20060101 A47D009/00; A47D 15/00 20060101 A47D015/00

Claims



1. A modular crib assembly comprising a framework comprising a base, an upper railing, and three or more supports, each connecting the base to the upper railing and being attached to each of the base and the upper railing; an inner breathable mesh wall detachably attached to both the upper railing and the base and extending from the base to the upper railing so that the base and the inner breathable mesh wall taken together define a primary containment area and the inner breathable mesh wall is spaced apart from and reduces or eliminates occupant contact with the supports; and an outer breathable mesh wall detachably attached to both the upper railing and the base and extending from the base to the upper railing so as to be spaced apart from the inner breathable mesh wall and laterally surrounding both the inner breathable mesh wall and the primary containment area.

2. (canceled)

3. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1 wherein at least one of the supports comprises an inner surface proximate to the inner breathable wall when the crib is assembled, the inner surface being at least partially concave.

4. The modular crib assembly according to claim 3 wherein each of the supports comprises an inner surface proximate to the inner breathable wall when the crib is assembled, the inner surface being at least partially concave.

5. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1, wherein the inner and outer walls are spaced apart by a distance in the range of about 1 to about 12 inches.

6. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1, wherein the inner breathable mesh wall forms a continuous breathable mesh lateral boundary around the primary containment area.

7. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1, wherein a portion of an upper surface of the base is recessed so that the upper surface defines a seat sized to receive a mattress to inhibit lateral movement of the mattress relative to the base when the mattress is received into the seat.

8. The modular crib assembly according to claim 7, wherein a top of the mattress is flush with a top of the base when the mattress is seated in the seat.

9. The modular crib assembly according to claim 7, further comprising a mattress received in the seat of the base.

10. The modular crib assembly according to claim 9, wherein the mattress is sized to fit into the seat so as to minimize the presence of any gap between an outer side wall of the mattress and an inner side wall defining the seat of the base.

11. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1, further comprising one or more visually perceptible images formed on each of the outer and inner mesh walls, the images being disposed at locations around the inner mesh wall containment area and around the outer mesh wall containment area and configured so as to provide a three dimensional-type visual effect when viewed from a point of view that is either outside of or within the primary containment area.

12. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1, wherein each of the inner and the outer mesh walls define an opening so that when the assembly is assembled, the opening provides a passageway from the primary containment area and through the inner and outer mesh walls at a vertical location at or above an upper surface of the base.

13. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1, further comprising one or more upper railing covers sized and configured to conceal a location of attachment of the upper edge of the inner mesh wall to the upper railing and to conceal a location of the upper edge of the outer mesh wall to the upper railing.

14. The modular crib assembly according to claim 1, further comprising a crib insert, which comprises a crib insert frame and a crib insert breathable sleeping surface supported by the crib insert frame, the crib insert being sized and configured to fit within the primary containment area when the assembly is assembled and to define a secondary containment area elevated above the base and within the primary containment area.

15. The modular crib assembly according to claim 14, further comprising a crib insert breathable sheet detachably attachable to the crib insert sleeping surface and crib insert frame.

16. A modular crib assembly kit comprising framework components comprising a base, an upper railing, and three or more supports, each support being adapted to connect the base to the upper railing and detachably attachable to each of the base and the upper railing; an inner breathable mesh wall detachably attachable to the base and the upper railing, and when assembled the inner mesh wall defines an inner perimeter and extends from the base to the upper railing and, when taken together with the base, defines a primary containment area; and an outer breathable mesh wall detachably attachable to the base and the upper railing, and when assembled the outer mesh wall defines an outer perimeter and extends from the base to the upper railing and is spaced apart from the inner breathable mesh wall and laterally surrounds both the inner breathable mesh wall and the primary containment area; wherein the inner and outer breathable mesh walls and the base and upper railing are configured so that, when the assembly is assembled, the inner and outer breathable mesh walls are attached to and extend from the upper railing to the base and the inner breathable mesh wall is spaced apart from and reduces or eliminates occupant contact with the supports.

17. (canceled)

18. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16 wherein at least one of the supports comprises an inner surface proximate to the inner breathable wall when the crib is assembled, the inner surface being at least partially concave.

19. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 18 wherein each of the supports comprises an inner surface proximate to the inner breathable wall when the crib is assembled, the inner surface being at least partially concave.

20. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16, wherein the kit components are sized and configured so that, when assembled, the inner and outer walls are spaced apart by a distance in the range of about 1 to about 12 inches.

21. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16, wherein the kit components are sized and configured so that, when assembled, the inner breathable mesh wall forms a continuous breathable mesh lateral boundary around the primary containment area.

22. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16, wherein a portion of an upper surface of the base is recessed so that the upper surface of the base defines a seat sized to receive a mattress to inhibit lateral movement of the mattress relative to the base when the mattress is received into the seat.

23. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 22, wherein a top of the mattress is flush with a top of the base when the mattress is seated in the seat.

24. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 22, further comprising a mattress sized to be received in the seat of the base.

25. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 24, wherein the mattress is sized to fit into the seat so as to minimize the presence of any gap between an outer side wall of the mattress and an inner side wall defining the seat of the base.

26. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16, further comprising one or more visually perceptible images formed on each of the outer and inner mesh walls, the images being disposed at locations around the inner mesh wall containment area and around the outer mesh wall containment area and configured so as to provide a three dimensional-type visual effect when viewed from a point of view that is either outside of or within the primary containment area.

27. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16, wherein each of the inner and the outer mesh walls define an opening so that when the kit is assembled, the opening provides a passageway from the primary containment area and through the inner and outer mesh walls at a vertical location at or above an upper surface of the base.

28. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16, further comprising one or more upper railing covers sized and configured to conceal a location of attachment of the upper edge of the inner mesh wall to the upper railing and to conceal a location of the upper edge of the outer mesh wall to the upper railing.

29. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 16, further comprising a crib insert, which comprises a crib insert frame and a crib insert breathable sleeping surface supported by the crib insert frame, the crib insert being sized and configured to fit within the primary containment area and to define a secondary containment area elevated above the base and within the primary containment area when the kit is assembled.

30. The modular crib assembly kit according to claim 29, further comprising a crib insert breathable sheet detachably attachable to the crib insert sleeping surface and crib insert frame.

31. (canceled)

32. (canceled)

33. (canceled)
Description



REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Claim is hereby made to the benefit of the priority of co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Appl. No. 62/113,996, filed on Feb. 9, 2015, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

[0002] This section introduces information from the inventor's own observations leading up to her invention, and from the art that may be related to or provide context for some aspects of the systems, apparatus and/or methods described and/or claimed herein. This information is background in the sense that it facilitates a better understanding of that which is disclosed and ultimately claimed herein. This discussion may include observations made by the inventor that were not necessarily evident to those of skill in the art at the time of the invention, as well as observations of "related" art. That such art may be related in no way implies that it is also "prior" art. The related art may or may not be prior art. The discussion in this section therefore is to be read in this light, and not viewed as an admission of prior art.

[0003] Enclosures and cribs are used to keep infants and toddlers confined for their own safety during sleep and light playtime. However, such enclosures have heretofore raised safety concerns. Currently, most standard sized cribs are designed to include rigid structural elements, such as corner posts containing sharp edges and a hard opaque slotted railing system that creates the enclosure of a mattress. Most cribs are also designed to include multiple mattress level settings, to which the caregiver of a child is meant to continue lowering in height as the child develops in size and coordination.

[0004] Sadly, each structural element of current standard sized cribs for infants and toddlers have caused crib related injuries and fatalities. In the United States alone, there are close to 10,000 documented crib related injuries per year. These injuries include, but are not limited to, head and neck injuries such as soft tissue damage and concussions, body impact wounds and lacerations, as well as limb and extremity injuries. (See, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org, last visited on Jan. 17, 2016.) In addition to crib related injuries, there are approximately 3500 Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID) annually in the United States. Commonly reported types of SUID cases include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is often linked to the surroundings of the infant, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. (See, http://www.cdc.gov.sids.data.htm, last visited on Jan. 17, 2016.) These alarming statistics illuminate the urgent need of a safer crib design.

[0005] The following paragraphs outline the ways in which the structural elements of current cribs and enclosures are essentially damaging to infants, toddlers and their families and furthermore outlines why a new and safer crib design must be considered

[0006] Hard and sharp corner posts and slotted railings of current cribs are often the cause of head and body impact wounds as well as limb breakages, sprains and fractures. As a baby reaches the milestones of pushing up, rolling over, rocking on hands and knees, crawling, sitting up, pulling up to a stand and finally walking, running and jumping, they practice these skills everywhere and anywhere. Many parents have experienced the horrible sound of their child suffering an impact wound when their baby or toddler has hit his/her head on the hard surface of the crib railings and sharp corners of the posts. This occurs during sleep as well as at play, as many babies and toddlers move about in their sleep. Many times children get their extremities stuck between the slotted railings and between the mattress and the railings. Many limb injuries occur from a parent's effort to release the child's limb from between the railings. In addition, limb injuries occur when a baby reaches through the crib railings and an older child pulls on the baby's limb from outside the crib, causing the limb to bend in too awkward a position.

[0007] To prevent impact and limb injuries due to hard, sharp and slotted railings and posts, parents attach a "crib bumper" to the crib. Most crib bumpers on the market today are long rectangular opaque pillow like contraptions, made to sit nearest to the mattress and encircle the inner perimeter of the crib. Most are made to tie or Velcro onto the railings of the crib. Crib bumpers have created even MORE risk and resulted in even MORE injuries and fatalities. Crib bumpers are never an exact fit on every crib and therefore become distorted as children pull at the contraption. Mobile babies and toddlers get their limbs caught between the crib bumper and the posts and railings of the crib, resulting in limb injuries. Many ambitious babies and toddlers succeed at detaching the crib bumpers from the railings and as they are playing with the contraption they become tangled, which has led to strangulation and suffocation. Many use the bumper to climb on, in an effort to get out of the crib, which leads to impact wounds upon falling out from the top opening of the crib.

[0008] Children in early infancy have died from positional asphyxia and suffocation when they have gotten their faces caught up against an opaque and thick crib bumper. A "breathable crib bumper" made of breathable mesh is on the market. However, it is so thin that it does not prevent impact injury against the hard posts and railings of the crib. Furthermore, the breathable crib bumper is just as easy for babies and toddlers to distort and detach from the crib, presenting the same injuries that may occur from opaque pillow-like crib bumpers. Because of the great risk imposed by ALL crib bumpers on the market, the American Academy of Pediatrics fervently recommends that parents never attach ANY crib bumper during ANY stage of infancy or toddlerhood.

[0009] The use of multiple mattress level settings has also been the cause of impact and limb injuries. Most cribs offer up to three, or even four, mattress level settings. The highest setting (closest to the top opening of the crib) is meant to be used when the child is in early infancy and still immobile. As the child grows in size and begins to reach gross motor skill milestones, such as rolling over, rocking on hands and knees, sitting and pulling up, etc., the caregiver lowers the mattress level to an appropriate height so that a mobile infant or toddler cannot climb and/or fall out of the crib. However, babies reach these milestones at a myriad of stages throughout their first months and first years of life. Caregivers cannot always predict when their child will reach a given milestone and are often surprised by a baby pulling up in his/her crib before the mattress has been lowered. The result is often that the child falls out of the crib and suffers an impact injury or worse.

[0010] In addition to crib related accidents occurring when young children reach gross motor skill milestones, injuries also occur when babies and toddlers reach emotional and mental milestones and become more alert. As a child develops mentally, they become more prone to physically "acting out" or experience a "tantrum" when they do not get what they want or when they feel emotionally vulnerable. Babies and toddlers often tantrum when they are separated from their caretakers and put in their cribs for sleep or play. Quite commonly, an emotionally vulnerable or upset baby or toddler will flail their extremities and bang their heads repeatedly on their crib in rebellion.

[0011] Healthy developing children often experience this kind of behavior throughout later infancy and toddlerhood. Children who suffer from physical conditions, such as seizures, or conditions that cause repeated and/or involuntary movement may experience this kind of repeated action even more so. Given the hard and sharp structural elements of current cribs, ALL developing children are at serious risk of dangerous and repeated impact injury as they experience the stages of physical AND emotional growth.

[0012] Infants and toddlers alike often lack strength and muscle coordination to maneuver their own weight around in a controlled fashion as they reach physical developmental milestones. Furthermore, babies and toddlers alike, tend to display their emotional milestones in a physical manner. Because of this, babies and toddlers endure a significant amount of injury and sadly fatality, if and when they are placed in an area that is unsafe for their physical and emotional stage of development. A baby crib is supposed to be a safe place in which one's child can be placed for safe sleep and safe play during baby's first years of development. However, as explicated above, the current standard sized crib does not meet the safety needs of babies and toddlers and is often the cause of injury and fatality. A crib designed to minimize and/or eliminate injury and fatality of babies and toddlers would be greatly welcomed in the baby gear industry and especially in the homes of developing young children and their caregivers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] The invention disclosed here addresses these needs in a unique and highly facile way, by providing amongst other things, an enclosure for infants and toddlers to be utilized during sleep and light playtime. The provided enclosure is a modular crib assembly designed to address some or all of the safety issues associated with other infant and toddler enclosures.

[0014] In one aspect of the invention, the modular crib assembly comprises

[0015] a framework comprising [0016] a base, [0017] an upper railing, and [0018] three or more supports, each connecting the base to the upper railing and being [0019] attached to each of the base and the upper railing;

[0020] an inner breathable mesh wall detachably attached to a portion of the framework, and extending between the base and the upper railing so that the base and the inner breathable mesh wall taken together define a primary containment area; and

[0021] an outer breathable mesh wall detachably attached to a portion of the framework, and extending between the base and the upper railing so as to be spaced apart from the inner breathable mesh wall and laterally surrounding both the inner breathable mesh wall and the primary containment area.

[0022] In another of its aspects, the invention provides a modular crib assembly kit comprising

[0023] framework components comprising [0024] a base, [0025] an upper railing, and [0026] three or more supports, each support being adapted to connect the base to the upper railing and detachably attachable to each of the base and the upper railing;

[0027] an inner breathable mesh wall adapted for detachable attachment to one or more of the framework components, and when assembled the inner mesh wall extends between the base and the upper railing and, when taken together with the base, defines a primary containment area; and

[0028] an outer breathable mesh wall adapted for detachable attachment to one or more of the framework components, and when assembled the outer mesh wall extends between the base and the upper railing and is spaced apart from the inner breathable mesh wall and laterally surrounds both the inner breathable mesh wall and the primary containment area.

[0029] Dual mesh wall systems made in accordance with this invention provide a breathable, sturdy, yet elastic, enclosure of a mattress. The inner mesh wall of the structure is designed to protect the occupant from coming into contact with any rigid or hard elements of the structure and contains no area where the occupant could get extremities caught, thus eliminating or diminishing any chance of structure related injury. Furthermore, the breathable mesh material combined with the design of the support posts (see detailed description below) in certain aspects of the invention allows for breathability and slight elasticity in every area where the occupant is in contact with the inner wall of the structure, thus eliminating or diminishing any chance of structure related suffocation or positional asphyxia.

[0030] The outer mesh wall of the structure is designed to protect the occupant from any outside impact, such as an older child or pet pressing forcefully up against the outer mesh wall, thus eliminating or diminishing any injury that could be caused by disturbances from outside the structure. Additionally, the dual wall design, allows for breathability and prevention of impact injury of the enclosure occupant, no matter where the structure is positioned within a given space. For example, when the outer wall is pressed up against an opaque surface lacking in breathability, such as a wall in a bedroom, or against an otherwise opaque surface such as another bed, the occupant maintains substantially 100% breathability and protection from impact given the space between the inner wall and outer wall of the structure.

[0031] In additional embodiments of the invention, the two walls are made to be detachable for cleaning. Detachable mechanisms, such as zippers or other fasteners, hook and loop-type fabric or the like, are concealed and secured within the inner and outer perimeters of the base and between the two segments of the upper railing of the structure, making the detachable mechanisms inaccessible to anyone except an adult. The base contains a space for a standard sized crib mattress (preferably an air permeable mattress and/or a mattress custom made to precisely fit the design) to sit preferably flush within its innermost perimeter. Support posts are connected and erect vertically at each corner of the base (and along sides in between corners of structure if needed) and are further supported by an upper railing that encircles the inner and outer perimeters of the structure. Some support posts may be hollowed and curved, or designed in such a way that the inner wall either does not touch the support posts at all or that there is a safe distance between the inner mesh wall and the posts in critical areas, such as, for example, the areas nearest to the mattress where breathability is essential for an occupant who is sleeping. Furthermore the curved support posts provide smoother edges to eliminate sharp rigid corners that could cause injury. In further embodiments, the harder structural elements, such as the base, support posts and upper railing, may be covered with a cushioning material, such as foam rubber or the like, to eliminate or diminish any chance of impact injury. These structural elements may even have a cushioning material built within the structural element instead of simply covering the structural element.

[0032] The distance between the inner perimeter and outer perimeter of the enclosure creates a significant amount of space between the two mesh walls, allowing for airflow throughout the entire enclosure as well as creating a safe, sturdy, yet soft and elastic environment for the occupant, to which the occupant is protected from any possible structure related injuries, such as impact or breakage, as well as possible structure related fatalities, such as positional asphyxia or suffocation. The dual mesh wall design additionally reduces or eliminates the need to attach any mechanism, such as a crib bumper, since the materials and design combined eliminate or greatly diminish the risk of injury.

[0033] As further described below, certain embodiments of the invention also include the ability to detach what are referred to as the Baby Crib Walls for cleaning, or to replace the Baby Crib Walls with what are referred to as Toddler Transition Walls as the child increases in mobility and independence. The Baby Crib Walls create a complete breathable enclosure, where the child cannot pass through the walls of the structure with any body part or extremity. The Toddler Transition Walls create a breathable enclosure, which encompasses a passageway through the walls that sits nearest to the mattress, so that an older more mobile and independent toddler may enter and exit the structure safely on his own.

[0034] Some aspects of the invention also include the ability to incorporate features such as an interactive textured play panel, as well as soothing lights and sounds or music within the structural framework and or within the mesh walls of the structure. These features offer comfort and stimulation to the enclosure occupant during sleep and light playtime. Furthermore, the built in sound and light features eliminate the need to attach hard opaque soothers made to attach to current baby cribs on the market today, which may also cause injury upon impact and are easily detached and/or broken from the slats or railings of current cribs.

[0035] Furthermore, the dual mesh wall design offers the ability to create a tridimensional, or layered aesthetic, such as an underwater scene, nature scene, or the like, that is aesthetically pleasing and stimulating for both adults and children alike. Furthermore, the tridimensional aesthetic may also aid the child in the development of fine motor skills and depth perception.

[0036] The design can be implemented in a range of sizes for any age child who would benefit from a breathable, soft and sturdy enclosure, during sleep or light play. Yet the design is mainly intended to be an appropriate size for use during infancy and toddlerhood and thus should be size appropriate for an infant or toddler.

[0037] These and other features, advantages and embodiments of the invention will now become further apparent from the accompanying drawings, the following detailed description and the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0038] FIG. 1 is an elevated view in perspective of a crib assembly in accordance with one aspect of the invention.

[0039] FIG. 2 an elevated view in perspective of a crib mattress for use with the assembly of FIG. 1, with the bottom of the crib mattress positioned upwardly to show both segments of an anti-bunching crib sheet zipped together in accord with one aspect of the invention.

[0040] FIG. 3 is an elevated view in perspective of a base of the assembly of FIG. 1 and the crib mattress of FIG. 2 positioned therein, with the top of both the base and the crib mattress positioned upwardly and flush with one another.

[0041] FIG. 4 is an elevated view in perspective of the base and mattress of FIG. 3 and vertical support posts attached thereto.

[0042] FIG. 5 is an elevated view in perspective of the base with support posts according to FIG. 4, and a bottom segment of the upper railing secured to the posts. A top segment of the upper railing is shown exploded away from the bottom segment.

[0043] FIG. 6 is an elevated view in perspective of structure with the top segment of upper railing secured atop the bottom segment of the upper railing. The two segments, top and bottom, of the upper railing conceal and secure the attaching mechanism along the top perimeters of both mesh walls.

[0044] FIG. 7 is an elevated view, in perspective and broken way, of the inner perimeter of the base of the assembly of FIG. 1, showing the attaching mechanism (in this case a zipper) of the bottom of the inner mesh wall concealed and secured within the inner perimeter of the base once a mattress (not shown) is seated in the base. The outer mesh wall already attached is also visible in this figure.

[0045] FIG. 8 an elevated view, in perspective and broken away, of the inner mesh wall of the assembly of FIG. 1, attached and secured to the base, without any mattress seated in the base.

[0046] FIG. 9 an elevated view in perspective similar to FIG. 1, with the top segment of upper railing blown away and ready to be secured into place.

[0047] FIG. 10 is an elevated view in perspective of an optional embodiment of the invention, which includes a breathable sleeping surface for infants (suggested use for ages 0-12 months), placed on the base and mattress of the assembly in FIG. 1. A custom breathable sheet is secured onto the breathable sleeping surface via corner loops, which pass under or through the mesh corner blockers and through a hole in each support post of the structure and then secure onto hooks located below each hole on the support posts.

[0048] FIG. 10A is a top view of a breathable sheet with corner loops, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. This version of the breathable sheet sits atop the breathable sleeping surface of FIG. 10. As seen in FIG. 10, the loops pass through or under the mesh corner blockers and then through the holes in each support post and finally secure onto the hooks provided below the holes in each support post.

[0049] FIG. 10B is an elevated view in perspective of the breathable sheet with corner loops, showing corner pieces of spacer mesh that erect upward from the sheet in order to seal any gap between the breathable surface of the structure of FIG. 10 and the mesh corner blockers to which the corners of the breathable sheet pass under or through, so that the corner loops can then pass through the respective holes in each support post and finally secure onto the hooks provided on each support post.

[0050] FIG. 10C is an elevated view in perspective of another aspect of the invention, providing a breathable sheet designed to sit atop the breathable sleeping surface as well as extend over the walls and upper railing of the breathable sleeping surface insert. The corner loops of this sheet secure onto the hooks located on the support posts of FIG. 10 without passing through or under the mesh corner blockers or through the holes in each support post.

[0051] FIG. 11 is a side perspective view of the full assembly if FIG. 1 together with the optional structure of FIG. 10, with the dual baby crib walls secured and the breathable sleeping surface sitting within the structure.

[0052] FIG. 12 is an elevated view in perspective, partially broken away, of an interactive play area (non-detachable) on the inner mesh wall of the assembly of FIG. 1. In this aspect of the invention, all components that are provided for interactive play are made of soft (non abrasive and non rigid/hard materials) materials with different textures that provide safe interactive play for enclosure occupant. Some elements may include a sound or light feature when pressed or touched. However, sound and light features are not limited to interactive play areas and may be placed elsewhere on the structure such as on or within the upper railing or the base (thus making some sound and light features controllable only by the caretaker of enclosure occupant).

[0053] FIG. 13 is a side view in perspective, partially broken away, showing Inner and Outer Mesh Walls of an assembly according to FIG. 10, with printed images included on the mesh walls. When viewed from inside and outside the structure, the layered images create visually a stimulating, tri-dimensional mosaic that surrounds the entirety of the enclosure. Interactive play elements may also be included in tri-dimensional mosaic images.

[0054] FIG. 14 is a side view in perspective and partially broken away, of toddler transition walls in accordance with one aspect of the invention, where a more mobile and independent baby or toddler may enter or exit the structure via a passageway between both mesh walls. Toddler transition walls are mesh walls that are attachable and detachable from the structure just as the baby crib walls. However, the area of the illustrated passageway(s) will be further secured into the base or otherwise made to be sturdy so that when utilized, the passageway does not lose form and stays secured in place. Please see more detailed description below.

[0055] FIG. 15 is an top perspective view of the base with suggested built in cushioning material (82), such as foam rubber, disposed about the inner top perimeter of the base. Cushioning material is made to attach in sections (for easy removal for cleaning) within the inner top perimeter of the base. Cushioning material prevents enclosure occupant from contacting any rigid elements along the base, thus preventing impact injury.

[0056] FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of the base of FIG. 15, taken along line 16-16 of FIG. 15, illustrating male/female structures (83, 85) that provide an attaching mechanism for affixing the cushioning material 82 to the base. This view also illustrates how a top of the cushioning material is exactly flush with a top of the mattress, thus the cushioning material also further seals any gap between the mattress, the inner mesh wall and the base, thus preventing any risk of enclosure occupant getting a limb or extremity caught between the inner mesh wall and the mattress. Furthermore, this view illustrates how the base and cushioning material do not extend past the surface of the mattress, thus, enclosure occupant may not get their nose pressed up against any opaque material, so the enclosure substantially maintains 100% breathability.

[0057] Like reference numbers or letters used in the figures are intended to identify the same or like parts as shown amongst the several figures.

FURTHER DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0058] As can now be appreciated, the invention described herein provides a modular crib assembly, as well as a kit of components that can form a crib assembly, which provides a highly functional and protective enclosure of occupants, including especially toddlers and infants. The components and features of the invention will now be described in greater detail with reference to particular illustrative embodiments of the invention shown in the accompanying figures. The embodiments shown in the figures are not intended to limit the scope of the invention, but instead are intended to illustrate embodiments of the invention for a greater understanding of the features and advantages the invention provides, as well as to illuminate how one might practice the invention.

[0059] Turning now to the figures, FIGS. 1-9 show a modular crib assembly 10 comprising a framework comprised of a base 14, an upper railing 16, and three or more (in this case, four) supports 18, each connecting base 14 to upper railing 16 and being attached by tongue-and-groove to each of base 14 and upper railing 16. Assembly 10 further comprises an inner breathable mesh wall 20 detachably attached to a portion of the framework, in this case railing 16 and base 14, and extending between base 14 and upper railing 16 so that base 14 and inner breathable mesh wall 20 taken together define a primary containment area PA (FIG. 1). Assembly 10 further comprises an outer breathable mesh wall 24 detachably attached to a portion of the framework, in this case the portion being railing 16 and base 14, and extending between base 14 and upper railing 16 so as to be spaced apart from inner breathable mesh wall 20 and laterally surrounding both inner breathable mesh wall 20 and primary containment area PA.

[0060] As shown in FIGS. 6 and 8, a lower edge 55 of inner breathable mesh wall 20 is detachably attached, by a zipper Z1, to base 14 and an upper edge 54 of wall 20 is detachably attached by another zipper Z2 to upper railing 16. A lower edge 55' of outer breathable mesh wall 24 is detachably attached, by a zipper Z4 to base 14 and at an upper edge 54' of outer wall 24 by another zipper Z3 to upper railing 16. Inner mesh wall 20 serves to prevent an enclosure occupant's contact with support posts 18 and outer mesh wall 24, allowing for breathability to the enclosure occupant, and thus preventing risk of suffocation. Inner mesh wall 20 is made of material so as to be pulled taught and secure when attached to the framework, yet remains elastic and breathable, preventing any chance of impact injury or positional asphyxia, and constitutes a continuous, breathable mesh lateral boundary around the primary containment area PA.

[0061] At least one, and as illustrated all, of the supports 18 comprise an inner surface 26 proximate to inner breathable wall 20 when the crib is assembled, the inner surface 26 being at least partially concave and spaced apart from inner breathable mesh wall 20.

[0062] As seen in FIG. 7, for example, base 14 defines a seat 32 sized to receive a mattress 34 (see FIGS. 2 and 5) so as to inhibit lateral movement of mattress 34 relative to base 14 when mattress 34 is received or seated into seat 32. As shown in the configuration illustrated (see, e.g., FIGS. 1, 8 and 9), space between mattress 34 and inner mesh wall 20 is minimized to prevent extremities from being caught there between. Seat 32 is of such a depth that top 36 of mattress 34 is flush with a top 38 of base 14 when mattress 34 is seated in seat 32.

[0063] The illustrated framework seen in, e.g., FIGS. 5 and 6, further comprises at least one upper railing cover 50 configured to snap or otherwise couple to upper railing 16 and is sized and configured to conceal a location 52 of attachment (via zipper Z2) of upper edge 54 of inner mesh wall 20 to upper railing 16 and to conceal a location 52' of attachment (via zipper Z3) of upper edge 54' of outer mesh wall 24 to upper railing 16.

[0064] Mattress 34 (see FIGS. 2, 5 and 7, for example) is sized to fit into seat 32 so as to minimize the presence of any gap between an outer side wall 33 of mattress 34 and an inner side wall 35 defining seat 32 of base 14. FIG. 2 illustrates another aspect of the invention, providing an anti-bunching fitted sheet 70 for use with mattress 34. Fitted sheet 70 covers mattress 34, and comprises a first fitted sheet portion 72 and a second anti-bunching portion 74 detachably attachable to a perimeter 76 of first fitted sheet portion 72 preferably by way of a zipper 78 (although other attachment means, such as, e.g., buttons, snaps, zippers or other fasteners, as well as hook and loop fastening material, etc. may alternatively be employed), so that anti-bunching portion 74, when detachably attached to the perimeter 76, retains first fitted sheet portion 72 stretched across top surface 36 of mattress 34 to inhibit bunching of first fitted sheet portion 72 at top surface 36 of mattress 34 during use.

[0065] As shown in FIGS. 10, 10A, 10B, 10C and 11, another embodiment of the invention further comprises a crib insert 56, which comprises a crib insert frame 58 and a crib insert breathable sleeping surface 60 supported by crib insert frame 58, crib insert 56 being sized and configured to fit within primary containment area PA when assembly 10 is assembled. Insert 56 is further configured with one or more (as illustrated, four) insert breathable mesh walls 57, so that walls 57 and surface 60 of insert 56 define a secondary containment area SA elevated above base 14 and above the top surface 36 of mattress 34 within primary containment area PA.

[0066] Illustrated in FIGS. 10A and 10B is another aspect of the invention, comprising a crib insert breathable sheet 62. Sheet 62 is configured to be detachably attachable to crib insert sleeping surface 60 and crib insert frame 58 of FIG. 10. In particular, sheet 62 is sized to be disposed upon mesh sleeping surface 60 to make surface 60 comfortable and soft, while retaining its top surface taught, firm, elastic and breathable. As illustrated, sheet 62 is detachable from sleeping surface 60 via four corner loops 64 which are fully sewn or otherwise attached or integral with the respective corners of sheet 62. Corner loops 64 extend under or through four respective mesh corner blockers 66 of insert 56 (FIG. 10) and then through a respective hole located in a respective support post 59, and finally secure sheet 62 onto sleep surface 60 by connecting to respective hooks 61 located on respective support posts 59 of insert frame 58. Sheet 62 is supplemented at each corner with an additional segment of breathable material 67 extending upwards at each corner to seal the gaps between mesh corner blockers 66 located in the corners of insert 56 and breathable surface 60 of insert 56. Loops 64, which are fully sewn or otherwise attached to the corners of sheet 62 preferably are made of durable, strong and elastic fabric or other material so that, when stretched and connected to hooks 61, sheet 62 is pulled taught and secure to inhibit movement of sheet 62 from sleeping surface 60 by the enclosure occupant while in secondary containment area SA (see FIG. 10). FIG. 10C illustrates an alternative breathable sheet 68, which includes one or more walls 69 that are sized to extend over the top railing of frame 58 as well as the top of posts 59 and thus secure onto hooks 61 located on posts 59 without passing through corner blockers 66 or support posts 59 to reach hooks 61.

[0067] FIG. 12 illustrates one embodiment of the invention which incorporates an interactive textured play panel 80, as well as optional soothing lights (not shown) and sounds or music within the structural framework and or within the mesh walls 20 and 24 of the assembly. These features, more fully described below, offer comfort and stimulation to the enclosure occupant during sleep and light playtime. Furthermore, the built in sound and light features eliminate the need to attach hard opaque soothers made to attach to current baby cribs on the market today, which may also cause injury upon impact and are easily detached and/or broken from the slats or railings of current cribs.

[0068] In another embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 13, the assembly 10 further comprises one or more visually perceptible images 40 connected, integral with or formed on each of outer mesh wall 24 and inner mesh wall 20, the images 40 being placed at one or more locations about inner mesh wall 20 and containment area PA and about outer mesh wall 24 which itself surrounds wall 20 and area PA. Images 40 are colored, shaped and configured so as to provide a three dimensional-type visual effect when viewed from a point of view that is either outside of or within primary containment area PA, because of the depth provided by space existing between the dual mesh walls 20 and 24 and the overlapping of images on the respective walls, and to provide a tri-dimensional, or layered aesthetic, such as an underwater scene, nature scene, or the like, as seen on FIG. 13, that is aesthetically pleasing and stimulating for both adults and children alike. Furthermore, without being bound by theory, it is believed the tridimensional aesthetic may also aid the child in the development of fine motor skills and depth perception.

[0069] FIG. 14 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention wherein an inner breathable mesh wall 20' and an outer breathable mesh wall 24', define an opening 44 so that when assembly 10 is assembled, opening 44 provides a passageway 46 from the primary containment area PA through the inner mesh wall 20' and outer mesh wall 24' at a vertical location 48 at or above an upper surface (top) 38 of base 14 and above the top surface 36 of mattress 34.

[0070] Particular component parts and features of certain embodiments of the invention illustrated in the figures will now be described in greater detail. References below to the number or letter references used in the accompanying figures are for the convenience of the reader only, and are not intended to limit the components or the described features to the particular illustrative embodiment shown in the figures.

[0071] The Base.

[0072] The base (14) is a sturdy platform, which forms the bottom foundation of the structure. The base is designed to sit flush against the floor, with nothing underneath, such as a post(s) that would raise it off the ground. The base (in combination with the supports and upper railing) creates the separation of the mesh walls. The inner perimeter of the base encircles an area where a mattress fits flush within the base. Furthermore, the inner and outer perimeters of the Base contain an adhered portion of tough waterproof fabric, to which the bottom of the inner and outer mesh walls are attached (via zipper, or other suitable mechanism) and concealed and secured within the Base. Thus, the attaching mechanism of the bottom of the mesh walls is not accessible to anyone accept an adult.

[0073] The shape of the Base can be, but is not limited to, a rectangular form with rounded corners that is made to fit a standard sized crib mattress in length, width and depth (standard sized crib mattress dimensions are 271/2 inches.times.52 inches.times.no greater thickness of 6 inches in depth). In preferred embodiments, however, the design may incorporate a custom mattress, to which the dimensions of the mattress match the dimensions of the base exactly, so that there is no area where the enclosure occupant could get their limbs or extremities caught between the mattress and the base. In further embodiments, the crib base is designed to accommodate an air permeable mattress, and thus may include a design, which incorporates breathable cut out areas within the base to provide maximum airflow through the base and an air permeable mattress.

[0074] It should be noted that in preferred embodiments, the base, in conjunction with the crib structure will have limited mattress level settings such as 2 at the most, though only 1 mattress level setting is preferred. For example, the lowest (and most preferable) mattress setting being closest to the floor, where the mattress fits flush within the base. In addition, the highest mattress level setting, for example, being only midway between the lowest point of the base and the highest point of Upper Railing. This element of the design thus reduces the potential risk of a mobile infant or toddler falling out of the top of the crib.

[0075] The material used to form the base may be wood, plastic, metal or any other material suitable for the intended use of the design. In further embodiments, all edges are rounded and/or covered with a cushioning material, such as foam rubber or the like, to further prevent any impact injury. In other embodiments, the design incorporates and area within the inner top edge of the inner perimeter of the base that is comprised of a cushioning 82 (and preferably air permeable) material, which is built into the framework of the base (please see FIGS. 15 and 16).

[0076] This invention is not limited strictly to a straight-sided form, and encompasses the opportunity to alter the design, to where the enclosure is circular, oval, or otherwise without corners. However, in some aspects of the invention, the enclosure is designed to accommodate a rectangular shaped mattress with rounded corners, such as is similar to a standard sized crib mattress. Even more preferred in some aspects of the invention is a design which incorporates a custom fit mattress which includes a custom made anti-bunching crib sheet (see full description of such sheet below).

[0077] The above description of that which is referred to as the "BASE" is not limited to the description as written. The base may be constructed in a different manner if it suits the soundness and purpose of the structure.

[0078] Supports.

[0079] By "support" as used herein, it is meant a structural support, which extends between the base and the upper railing, serving to hold the upper railing and the base apart and to create a given space in and across which the mesh walls are properly held taught and secure. The support posts (18) are connected to and extend upward from the corners of the base and hold atop, the upper railing. The securing of the supports can be accomplished by a wide range of suitable means, such as screws; nails; adhesives; joint mechanisms such as female/male type connections such as, dowel and recess, dovetail; and the like.

[0080] In one potentially preferred aspect of the invention, the supports are partially or completely hollowed and curved in form, such that the inner mesh wall, when properly disposed with respect to the framework, does not touch the support. The incidence of enclosure occupant contacting the hard and opaque support is thus prevented, reduced or diminished in impact. Thus, 100% breathability is maintained throughout the structure (preventing the risk of structure related suffocation or positional asphyxia of enclosure occupant), and impact injury is prevented. In preferred embodiments, the edges of the support posts are rounded so as to further prevent injury. The support posts can be made out of any suitable material, such as for example, wood, metal or plastic, or the like. In further embodiments, the supports are covered with a cushioning material, such as foam rubber, or the like, to reduce or prevent the chance of impact injury. In exemplary embodiments, the structure contains two or more supports of any suitable means, though four vertical support posts, located at the corners of the structure, which are curved and hollowed, may be preferred.

[0081] The invention is not limited to only vertical posts located at the corners of the structure but may contain support posts in any other surrounding area of the framework as needed. Additionally, the design is not limited to only vertical supports, but may utilize horizontal, diagonal or any otherwise angled support system if necessary for security of the structure. Furthermore, the supports are not limited to a securing mechanism such as screws or the like, but may hinge upward from the base if necessary, or extend and lock into place in any manner necessary to create more suitable security of the structure and to keep the mesh walls taught.

[0082] It should be noted that the above description of that which is referred to as the "SUPPORT POSTS" is not limited to the description as written. In other embodiments, the support posts may be otherwise constructed in a different manner if it suits the soundness and purpose of the structure.

[0083] Upper Railing.

[0084] The upper railing (16) is secured to the top of the vertical support posts and encircles the inner and outer perimeters of the structure. Preferred embodiments include an upper railing design that is comprised of two separate segments: a BOTTOM segment and a TOP segment.

[0085] The BOTTOM segment of the upper railing is secured into the top of any vertical support posts and is meant to be a permanent attachment once secured in place. The securing of this segment can be accomplished by a wide range of suitable means, such as screws; nails; adhesives; joint mechanisms such as female/male type connections such as, dowel and recess, dovetail; and the like. The BOTTOM segment of the upper railing contains an adhered portion of tough waterproof fabric to which each mesh wall is attached, via zipper or any other suitable mechanism.

[0086] The TOP segment of the upper railing then connects atop the BOTTOM segment of the upper railing, thus concealing and securing the attachment of the top of the mesh walls to the structure. Securing the two segments of the upper railing, can be accomplished by a wide range of suitable means, such as screws, or the like. The securing mechanism may secure only through TOP to BOTTOM segments of the Upper Railing or from TOP segment all the way into the support posts if necessary for soundness and stability of the structure.

[0087] The dual level railing design eliminates, reduces or diminishes accessibility to detachable areas of the top of the mesh walls by anyone accept an adult. Furthermore, when the Baby Crib walls need to be detached, either to be cleaned or to be replaced with Toddler Transition Walls, the design allows for the entire structure to stay secure and in place aside from the TOP segment of the Upper Railing. Once the walls are reattached to the BOTTOM segment of the Upper Railing, the TOP segment of the Upper Railing then is secured back in place. Further embodiments incorporate a cushioning material, such as foam rubber, so as to cover any rigid elements of the upper railing, thus eliminating, reducing or diminishing injury of enclosure occupant. In other embodiments, a cushioned portion is built into the upper railing.

[0088] The structural design of the upper railing is not limited to the above description. The structural design of the upper railing may include hard unbendable pieces which are secured together via screws or the like, or the railing may secure in place by means of a lock and hinge system to which the supports and upper rail alike, are hinged and locked into place. The materials used to create the upper railing may include wood, metal, plastic or any other suitable materials.

[0089] Dual Mesh Walls.

[0090] The framework described above including, but not limited to, a base, supports and upper railing, participates in supporting two breathable mesh walls (20 and 24 or 20' and 24'), providing a complete and safe enclosure whereas the occupant cannot pass through the walls by means of entire body or extremities and has access to breathability in every area of the mesh walled enclosure. These two mesh walls are heretofore referred to as an INNER mesh wall (20) and an OUTER mesh wall (24). Together, the two mesh walls create what is heretofore referred to as BABY CRIB WALLS, which are meant for, but not limited to, the invention's first stage of use during infancy and early toddlerhood.

[0091] The INNER mesh wall is one piece of breathable fabric that encloses and encircles the INNER perimeter of the structure, wherein the mattress area sits. On the top and bottom edges of the breathable fabric is a tough waterproof fabric containing a zipper or other mechanism meant to attach the INNER mesh wall to the base and respectively to the bottom segment of the upper railing. The INNER mesh wall is attached to the structure in such a way that it is pulled taught enough to provide a sturdy, yet elastic, and breathable inner wall. This INNER mesh wall is attached in such a way that the occupant may come into contact with the INNER mesh wall, but may NOT come into contact with any areas of the structure, such as the support posts, that could create injury or a lack of breathability.

[0092] In other embodiments, the inner mesh wall is attached in such a way that the occupant may come into contact with the posts or other part of the structure but may not be susceptible to impact injury as certain areas of the structure are covered with a cushioning material, such as foam rubber, or the like. Furthermore, in all preferred embodiments of the design, the inner mesh wall will allow for breathability and an appropriate amount of elasticity in all areas where occupant may press up against the inner wall during sleep. Thus, even if the Inner mesh wall comes into contact with a portion of the supports, it may not come into contact with the supports in crucial areas, such as nearest the mattress, so that 100% breathability is maintained during sleep.

[0093] It should be noted that embodiments may include a design where the inner mesh wall may still be one complete unit of fabric that is detachable from the structure, yet the one complete unit of fabric may be comprised of several pieces of breathable mesh fabric, which are sewn together in such a way that any corners of the framework are blocked and fit flush around the corners of the mattress. Thus, enclosure occupant has no way of coming into contact with a support, and furthermore enclosure occupant has no way of getting any body part, including extremities, wedged between any area of the mattress and the inner wall.

[0094] The OUTER mesh wall is one piece of breathable fabric that encloses and encircles the OUTER perimeter of the structure. On the top and bottom edges of the breathable fabric is a tough waterproof fabric containing a zipper or other mechanism meant to attach the OUTER mesh wall to the base and respectively to the bottom segment of the upper railing. The OUTER mesh wall is attached in such a way that it is pulled taught enough to provide a sturdy wall. The OUTER wall is meant to protect the occupant from outside impacts and disturbances, such as an older child or pet pressing up against the OUTER wall. Furthermore, it allows the unit to be placed up against anything opaque, such as the wall of a bedroom, or placed in direct contact with another bed, without obstructing breathability. Thus if the outer wall is pressed up against anything opaque, the space between the two mesh walls allows for complete breathability. Furthermore, as the enclosure occupant only has access to the inner wall, the occupant is protected from impact injury even when the outer wall is pressed up against a hard surface, such as a wall of a bedroom. Thus, if a mobile infant or toddler were to stand up, fall back and hit the inner mesh wall, there exists no risk of injury as the inner mesh wall does not come into contact with any opaque or hard surface surrounding the enclosure, given the space between the inner and outer mesh wall.

[0095] The way in which the dual mesh wall system, within the given structure, is created is not limited to the description above. For example, in one embodiment, the dual mesh wall system may be created by one single piece of fabric that is attached to the inner side of the base, draped over the bottom portion of the upper railing as well as the supports, and fastened then to the outer perimeter of the base, thus making two walls with one piece of fabric. However, in preferred embodiments, the dual mesh wall system is created by two separate pieces of fabric, to where each piece of fabric is its own wall that is detachable from the structure.

[0096] In yet another embodiment, the two mesh walls contain their own separate structures, to where the inner mesh wall and structure stands separately from, and sits within, the outer mesh wall and structure. These two separate structures, would then be connected by an upper railing.

[0097] In preferred embodiments, the BABY CRIB WALLS are made to attach and detach from the structure, so as to provide an opportunity to clean the walls and the area in between the walls (such as the surface of the base) effectively. Furthermore, detachability, then allows for the next stage of walls, the TODDLER TRANSITION WALLS, to be attached when the occupant is at an appropriate stage of development.

[0098] It is also important to note that all attaching mechanisms, such as zippers, will be effectively secured and concealed by way of materials (such as fabric, wood, or the like) that cover the attaching mechanisms and are secured in place with screws or the like, so that a child (whether inside or outside the crib) has NO access to the attaching mechanisms and thus will not be able to detach the walls from the crib structure.

[0099] Though detachability of the walls of the structure is incorporated in the preferred design of the dual mesh wall system, the invention is not limited to this design element and may incorporate walls that are non-detachable from the structure.

[0100] The mesh walls are made of a material which is essentially "breathable," i.e., air can be easily drawn through the material such that if the material is against the nose or mouth of an infant or a toddler, it will not prevent the child from drawing in air through the mouth or nose. Many materials are thus breathable. Even more preferred are breathable materials, which also have some degree of elasticity, the ability to "give" or stretch under pressure, such as occurs with the surface of a trampoline. Such materials are expected to diminish the incidence of positional asphyxiation such as can occur when the child is positioned so that it cannot draw air into its lungs, such as could occur when the head is at too sharp and angle to the body or the airway is otherwise compressed due to the weight of the child. Breathable and elastic materials include polyester and sometimes vinyl meshes of different ranges of weight and thickness and breathable hole sizes, such as leno mesh, spacer mesh, Phifertex mesh and the like. Materials which are both breathable and elastic include, polyester meshes of different ranges of weight and thickness and breathable hole sizes, such as leno meshes, spacer meshes, and the like. Preferred is a mesh material such as, for example, a sheer breathable and elastic polyester fabric with pin-sized holes to holes no bigger than a newborn sized finger (approximately 5 mm in diameter), which may be pulled taught enough to create a sturdy yet elastic wall. Preferred are mesh materials containing holes with an APPROXIMATE maximum diameter of 5 millimeters.

[0101] An advantage of using mesh materials is that mesh can be "sheer" or "see-through" to some degree. Thus, a mesh inner wall will not block the enclosure occupant's view of the mesh outer wall. In some embodiments, both walls are made with a sheer mesh with printed images, such that when viewed overlapping from inner to outer wall and from outer to inner wall, a layered, or three-dimensional affect is created. For example, an underwater scene, forest scene, or other visually stimulating scene appropriate to the age of the enclosure occupant, can be printed on both walls, which then creates a tri-dimensional aesthetic. In other embodiments of the invention, a layered aesthetic may be accomplished by complete mosaic on one sheer wall and minimal images on the other sheer wall. In other embodiments, each wall may be one solid color with minimal images. Thus, while the present invention encompasses the use of materials, which are breathable and elastic, in a preferred embodiment, the material of both inner and outer walls is a polyester mesh or the like, which is breathable, elastic and sheer. In addition, though each wall may be one solid color, or simply sheer, it is preferred that each wall contain age appropriate visually stimulating images, that create a three-dimensional mosaic like aesthetic.

[0102] In further embodiments, the inner and outer mesh walls contain an interactive area, or PLAY PANEL, designed for interactive play for the child. It should be noted that any area designed for interactive play will be in an appropriate place upon the surface of the inner and/or outer walls of the crib and will offer NO area of obstruction of breathability during sleep. Furthermore, all interactive play elements will be made with materials and in such a way that they may not come loose from the mesh wall(s) and may not include any element that could cause impact injury. Play panel design and elements may include, but are not limited to, a variety of textured fabrics, age appropriate images, words and pictures, sound or musical elements, light features and the like. Furthermore, interactive elements are not limited to one given play panel area within the mesh walls, but may be incorporated into the design of the mosaic like aesthetic. For example, if the crib has a forest scene printed on the walls, with animals, trees and the like, any of these images (as long as they are not located nearest the mattress where baby could press up against the inner wall during sleep) could be made with a textured fabric and or sound or light feature. Thus, for example, a bird, could be made of a sewn in textured material with a squeaker secured inside that makes a chirping sound when pressed. Thus when enclosure occupant feels the bird, the child feels a different texture than that of the surrounding mesh wall, and when that image is pressed with a certain amount of pressure, the child would hear the bird chirp. Interactive sensory activities encourage the development of the senses, such as touch and sound, and are incredibly important in the developmental stages of early childhood. Furthermore, a sensory activity that is fully sewn into the walls of the crib and is NOT detachable, offers a safe way for the child to play and engage with his or her surroundings without risk of injury, strangulation or suffocation.

[0103] Both top and bottom perimeters of the mesh walls may be finished with a tough and waterproof fabric. These bottom and top pieces of fabric may each include a zipper, or other suitable mechanism, that extends the circumference of the bottom and top, as well as inner and outer perimeters, allowing the mesh walls to be detached from the crib structure to be cleaned. The edges of the sheer mesh walls, which are connected to the bottom segment of the upper railing, and respectively, connected to the base, may be finished with a tougher portion of fabric having greater durability and mechanical strength than the mesh material of the remainder of the wall. In additional embodiments, the finishing edges of the sheer mesh walls can be less elastic than the remainder of the mesh walls. In additional embodiments, the edge portions of tough fabric may be within, but are not limited to, a range of about 2 to about 6 inches in width on either the bottom or top portions of the mesh walls. The tougher fabric that comprises the edges of the bottom of the inner wall, which is nearest to the mattress, should not exceed past 4 or 5 inches from the secured point on the base to the top surface of the mattress, so as to ensure that any material touching the mattress is breathable. Thus, the tough edging fabric on the bottom of the inner wall should be concealed in between the mattress and the base. Thus, the enclosure occupant only has access to the breathable mesh fabric during sleep.

[0104] One of the benefits of the embodiments of the present invention is the protection afforded the enclosure occupant from blows and intrusions from the outside of the enclosure. To this end, it is preferred that the outer mesh wall and the inner mesh wall be separated by a distance in the range of about 1 to about 12 inches apart, with a range of about 4 to about 8 inches preferred.

[0105] The inner and outer mesh walls are separated by an inter wall distance. While it is contemplated that the walls can be any convenient distance apart, in exemplary embodiments, the inter wall distance is about 1 to about 12 inches. In other embodiments, inter wall distance is about 1.5 to about 6 inches apart. Furthermore, it is not required that the inter wall distance be the same for all the walls of the crib. For example, the side inter wall distance may be different from the end wall inter wall distance.

[0106] It should also be noted that the double walled mesh design, may also be used with a breathable, elastic inner mesh wall and an outer wall which is breathable, yet not elastic, or of limited elasticity, or of lesser elasticity than the inner mesh wall. In this way, blows and disturbances impacting on the outer mesh wall from the outside of the enclosure are dampened or suppressed such that they have limited or no impact upon the inner mesh wall. Thus in preferred embodiments, the inner mesh wall is breathable and elastic, while the outer mesh wall is breathable, but of lesser elasticity than the inner wall.

[0107] It should be noted that the dual wall concept also allows the structure to be positioned up against a solid, or otherwise, hard and/or opaque surface wall of a bedroom, or up against the side of another bed, such as the caregiver of occupant's bed, while maintaining breathability and protection from impact. Thus, given the distance between the inner and outer walls of the crib and the breathable fabric used to create the two walls, the crib occupant maintains 100% breathability and protection from impact no matter where the crib is placed.

[0108] Toddler Transition Walls.

[0109] One highly useful feature of certain aspects of the invention is the ease with which the enclosure can be altered to be used as the child increases in mobility. If there exists a risk that the enclosure occupant will climb out of the crib or the occupant is simply ready for increased independence, the Baby Crib Walls can be removed and replaced with TODDLER TRANSITION WALLS (20' and 24'). The Toddler Transition Walls are breathable mesh walls (inner and outer) that preferably attach and detach onto the crib structure just as do the Baby Crib Walls. However, the Toddler Transition Walls include a passageway (46) near the mattress surface where a more mobile child can easily enter and exit the crib. While the passageway may be any shape, which allows the child to enter and exit the crib safely and effectively, in preferred embodiments, the passageway will be a fun shape or character (i.e., circle, star, arch, heart, dog, bear, etc.). Toddler Transition Walls may include more than one passageway if desired. The passageway(s), is preferably designed so that the child does NOT have access to the space between the mesh walls. Thus, the child may enter and exit the crib safely, but is not able to wedge themselves, or have any access at all, to the space between the two walls of the structure. Furthermore, the passageway(s) area(s) will be constructed in such a way that the passageway(s) is sturdy and will not loose shape upon impact. Though the passageway(s) may be constructed in a myriad of ways, preferred is a passageway to which the shape of the opening is formed by a metal, plastic or wooden frame (or the like) that is covered with a cushioning material such as foam rubber, or air permeable cushioning material, or covered by a closed cell cushioning material which is then covered by a breathable spacer mesh or the like. The frame is secured into the base by means of screws, hinge and lock system, male/female securing system, or any other suitable means. The space that exists in the depth between the passageway frame through both mesh walls would be stretched sturdy and taught and be made of a strong, yet still elastic, mesh such as Phifertex mesh, spacer mesh or the like. Thus, the passageway materials maintain 100% breathability, appropriate elasticity, and make the passageway strong and sturdy such that when the enclosure occupant passes through the passageway, the passageway stays in place and maintains it's shape.

[0110] It should be noted that the design of the Toddler Transition Walls may include a sheer mesh piece of fabric that extends across the entrance/exit opening(s) to further prevent the enclosure occupant from passing through the entrance/exit(s) during sleep. This piece of mesh would be long enough to fit within the width of the passageway and only tall enough to prevent a child from exiting the passageway when they are laying horizontally upon the mattress, yet moving about in their sleep. Even more preferred, is a passageway(s) designed so that the bottom edge of the passageway(s) sits above the mattress (at a preferred range between 2 to 6 inches above the mattress) so that the enclosure occupant is fully protected from falling out of the crib during sleep, however may easily achieve entry and exit of the structure.

[0111] In an even more preferred embodiment, an air permeable, cushioned and triangular wedge or ramp may be incorporated as a separate attachable component of the design, so that when pressed up against the outer wall passageway area(s), the ramp-like wedge provides even more ease for the child to enter and exit the crib safely.

[0112] It should be noted that the Toddler Transition Walls may also include, but are not limited to the same aesthetic opportunities as described above for the Baby Crib Walls, including a tri-dimensional mosaic and interactive play panel and/or otherwise interactive components of the mosaic like aesthetic.

Dimensions of Embodiments of the Invention

[0113] Dimensions of the structural elements of embodiments of the invention are not limited to, but are intended to accommodate, an infant or toddler who is an appropriate size for a standard sized crib mattress. Furthermore, the inner and outer dimensions are not limited to, but are intended to create a separation between two mesh walls, so that when pressed upon, one wall will not be touched or impacted by the other. In one embodiment, the base, in use with supports, has dimensions such that a standard sized crib mattress (271/2 inches.times.52 inches and no thicker than 6 inches in depth) can fit completely flush within the inner perimeter of the base. In one aspect of the invention, the structure accommodates an air permeable crib mattress. Yet another aspect of the invention includes dimensions that fit a custom made mattress that is either the exact dimensions of a standard sized crib mattress or is greater in length than a standard crib mattress and perhaps less in thickness to provide a lower height of the crib and more longevity as the enclosure occupant grows in height. The height of the entire structure from the bottom of the base to the top of the upper railing should not be greater than approximately 38 inches tall and should not be less than approximately 31 inches tall. The preferred height in one aspect of the invention is between 32 inches and 35 inches.

[0114] Though the intended use of the invention is for infants and toddlers, the design allows for the creation of the invention in larger or smaller dimensions, whereas to create, for example a bedside crib for infants, where the mattress is adjustable to meet the height of an adult sized bed, or for example, a twin sized mattress enclosure for older children. Thus, the dimensions may be changed if the design is utilized for different age groups from that which is described above. Furthermore, the design is not limited to a rectangular shape with rounded corners and may alternatively be created in other shapes such as a square, triangle or other shape, or furthermore a shape without corners, such as a circle or oval.

[0115] Materials.

[0116] In general, it is preferred that the materials used to build all elements of an assembly in accordance with the invention be sound and durable so as to support and withstand the activities of an infant, toddler and older child, though typically occupants will be infants and toddlers. Furthermore, all materials must be fire proof, non-toxic and comply by the safety standards regarding appropriate materials of infant gear, and should comply by the safe sleep standards as described by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

[0117] The invention's support structure, comprising the base, supports and upper railing may be made of metal, plastic, wood or any other material(s) suitable for its intended use. Additionally, any elements that could cause injury upon impact may be covered with a cushioning material such as foam rubber, closed cell foam, or the like.

[0118] The two breathable walls that make up the enclosure and contain key aesthetic design elements are preferably made of sheer, non-toxic, breathable mesh fabrics that may differ in elasticity from inner to outer wall. Any color or images or textures should be made from non-toxic dyes and furthermore, should be made to be washable.

[0119] Securing mechanisms may include, but are not limited to, screws, zippers, hinge and lock systems, male/female connecting mechanisms and the like.

[0120] It is preferable in some aspects of the invention that the materials used to build the assembly be recyclable, or otherwise, eco-friendly and non-toxic to the enclosure occupant or to the earth. Of course, the invention is not limited to any particular materials, other than those that comply with the safety standards for materials used in baby gear and to those which may be described by the American Academy of Pediatrics or applicable, minimum industry standards.

[0121] Assembly.

[0122] The assembly (10) may contain connecting elements such as screws, zippers or any other elements that are suitable for their intended use and that may be concealed when necessary to prevent access from enclosure occupant or other child. The design and assembly of the invention includes a variety of options. As noted previously, the accompanying figures illustrate a preferred example of one embodiment of the invention design and assembly. But the invention is not limited to the assembly option which is illustrated in the still figures included with this document. Nor is the assembly of the invention limited to the written descriptions included in this document.

[0123] Breathable Sleeping Surface for Infants (Approximately Ages 0 to 12 Months).

[0124] This embodiment of the invention is a structure that is made to insert into the crib for use when enclosure occupant is in the most vulnerable stages for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or, SIDS. The most vulnerable stages for SIDS is between 0 to 12 months of age. Immobile and newly mobile babies are all at risk of SIDS and thus need a breathable surface and surroundings to sleep and play on in these vulnerable stages.

[0125] The Breathable Sleeping Surface (60) for infants is a structure comprised of support posts, a base railing, a sleeping surface railing, a top railing, a mesh sleeping surface, mesh walls and mesh corner blockers. In addition, there is a custom breathable sheet made to attach to and detach from the structure.

[0126] The BASE RAILING supports the structure in conjunction with the support posts, sleeping surface railing and upper railing. The Base Railing sits flat upon the crib mattress, encircles the perimeter of the inserted structure, and is attached to the bottom of each vertical support post.

[0127] The SLEEPING SURFACE RAILING creates the space to which the mesh sleeping surface is attached and held taught. The Sleeping Surface Railing encircles the perimeter of the structure and sits above the base railing and crib mattress about 2 to 12 inches, with a range of 4 to 6 inches above the base railing and mattress preferred. Also connected to the sleeping surface railing are mesh walls that extend upward from the sleeping surface railing to the top railing, which also encircles the perimeter of the structure. The mesh walls, from sleeping surface railing to top railing preferably is a minimum of 10 inches in height to a maximum height that would match the height of the entire crib. A preferred example of height of the mesh walls is between 10 inches to 18 inches. The Mesh Walls and sleeping surface provide substantially 100% breathability from all angles.

[0128] The TOP RAILING encircles the perimeter of the structure and connects to the top of all vertical support posts. The top of the mesh walls are connected to the top railing. The top railing is within the range of 10 inches above the sleep surface railing and at a maximum may reach the height of the entire crib. However, in further embodiments, the Top Railing, in conjunction with the vertical supports and mesh walls, may be made as an adjustable piece so as to raise the height of the walls as baby grows in size and develops stronger gross motor skills such as sitting up and standing up. Thus, if the caregiver so desires to keep baby on the breathable sleeping surface as they grow and reach new developmental mile stones, the walls, supports and upper railing may be raised in height to accommodate a bigger more mobile baby. Thus, preventing any risk of a bigger and more mobile baby from falling out of the breathable sleeping surface insert or using the upper railing of the insert as a step stool to climb out.

[0129] The SUPPORT POSTS are located at the four rounded corners of the sleeping surface structure (and, in some embodiments, along the sides) and are possibly curved, so as to curve around the corners of the sleeping surface. The support posts stand vertically from the base railing, connect to the sleeping surface railing and connect all the way to the top railing of the structure. From bottom railing to top railing, the height of the support posts are approximately 24 inches or at a maximum height that matches the height of the entire crib. A preferred range of height for the support posts and thus, the entire inserted structure, is between 24 inches and 30 inches. Each support post contains a hole (approximately 1 to 3 inches in width and 1 to 2 inches in height) located near the sleeping surface and a hook located approximately 2 to 5 inches below the hole. The hole in each support post provides the space for the corner loops of a custom breathable sheet to pass through and then connect and secure to the hooks located below each hole on the support posts.

[0130] In further embodiments, the support posts, in conjunction with the mesh walls and the upper railing are made to be adjustable, so that the height of the walls may become higher as baby grows and develops. For example, a baby who is sitting up and learning to stand up will need the walls of the breathable surface structure to be higher than an infant who is immobile. Thus, if the walls are higher, a bigger and more mobile baby may not use the upper railing as a step stool to climb out or potentially fall. Adjustable support posts may be accomplished by any suitable means. However, it is preferable that an extension and lock system, where, for example, the supports are made of separate cylinders (or other suitable shape) that fit inside one another and extend outward to become longer or retract inside one another to become shorter (like a metal pole that extends to become longer and collapses to become shorter) and locks into place with each extension or retraction.

[0131] MESH WALLS surround the sleeping surface and connect vertically from the sleeping surface railing to the top railing. The Mesh Walls are a minimum of 10 inches in height to a maximum height that would match the height of the entire crib. The height of the Mesh Walls may be stationary or may be adjustable in conjunction with the supports and upper railing. MESH CORNER BLOCKERS are located in the corners of the structure and extend from the sleeping surface to the top railing and from adjacent mesh walls. The mesh corner blockers prevent enclosure occupant from coming into contact with the opaque support posts in each corner of the structure. Thus, enclosure occupant is protected from any opaque surface lacking in breathability and from any hard surface that could cause impact injury. Each Mesh Corner Blocker will contain a space nearest the sleep surface to where the corner loops of the breathable sheet will pass through to then pass through the holes in the support posts and secure onto the hooks located on the posts. The top space in between the Mesh Corner Blockers and the walls and corner posts will also be enclosed with a piece of mesh sewn between the top of the Mesh Corner Blockers, the top of the mesh walls and the tops of the corner posts.

[0132] Adjustable Mesh Walls may be accomplished by any suitable means. However it is suggested that the Mesh Walls (including the mesh corner blockers) be constructed in such a way that the extra fabric is rolled or folded within the top railing and as the height of the posts extend upward, the extra fabric is revealed as it rolls or unfolds out of the Top Railing (such as what occurs with a window shade when it extends or retracts).

[0133] The MESH SLEEPING SURFACE is tightly stretched across the entire surface area of the structure, creating a firm, yet elastic and breathable surface for the enclosure occupant to sleep. Furthermore, as the sleeping surface sits several inches above the base of the structure and crib mattress, the mesh sleeping surface remains breathable in the event that the infant should be face down on the surface during sleep. In some embodiments, the sleeping surface is detachable from the posts and/or sleeping surface railing by a zipper (or other suitable means) for easy cleaning and replacement. In preferred embodiments, any attaching mechanism is located underneath the sleeping surface and along the perimeter of the sleep surface railing so that the enclosure occupant cannot access the attaching mechanism. In further embodiments, the sleeping surface and walls of the structure are made of a material, such as Phifertex mesh, that can simply be wiped down with a non-toxic cleaning cloth so that it does not necessarily have to be detached for cleaning (such as Phifertex mesh, or other polyester mesh).

[0134] In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the Mesh Sleeping Surface may be constructed of a Phifertex.RTM. mesh, or similar material which is highly durable, waterproof, cleanable, and can support a great deal of weight beyond that of even an average size adult. It is also preferred that the breathable sleeping surface accommodate a custom breathable sheet that is detachable for cleaning.

[0135] Breathable Sheet.

[0136] It is preferred that the Breathable Sleep Surface for Infants accommodate a custom Breathable Sheet (62) made of breathable materials, such as spacer mesh, or the like. Preferred is a sheet made of one layer or more of spacer mesh, made in combination with a fully adhered, sewn, or compressed top surface layer of cotton or other soft fabric, to which the top surface of cotton contains the same holes as the spacer mesh. Thus, the sheet is fully breathable as well as non-abrasive to a baby's delicate skin. The Breathable Sheet lays upon the mesh sleeping surface to make the surface comfortable and soft, while keeping the surface taught, firm, elastic and breathable. In other embodiments, the layered breathable sheet may be permanently adhered to the sleeping surface, thus the entire sleeping surface would be removable for cleaning. However, in preferred embodiments, only the Breathable Sheet is detachable from the mesh sleeping surface via corner loops which are fully sewn to the corners of the Breathable Sheet. The corner loops extend under or through the mesh corner blockers and then through the holes located in the support posts, and finally secure the sheet onto the sleep surface by connecting to hooks located on the support posts of the sleeping surface structure. The loops, which are fully sewn to the corners of the Breathable Sheet, are made of a highly durable, strong and stretchy elastic fabric. Thus, when stretched and connected to the appropriate hooks, the Breathable Sheet is pulled taught and secure and is thus unmovable from the sleep surface by anyone accept and adult caretaker. This style of the sheet also includes a sewn in piece of spacer mesh which seals any gap between the sleep surface and the space under or through the mesh corner blockers, thus making it impossible for an infant's extremities to pass through the area to which the corners of the sheet pass through or under the mesh corner blockers. In further embodiments the Breathable Sheet may contain more or less loops, or may be attachable by another suitable means such as a zipper. In other embodiments, the Breathable Sheet includes walls made of spacer mesh to which the corner loops (or more loops) are attached. This version of the Breathable Sheet, includes walls that would extend over the top railing of the structure as well as the top of the corner posts and thus secure onto the hooks located on the corner posts without passing through the mesh corner blockers or the support posts to reach the hooks. It is also possible that this version of the sheet could be made with extra material that may extend in height and adjust if the walls of the structure are extended in height as baby grows.

[0137] The breathable sleeping surface structure can be made to sit flush against the inner mesh wall of the crib so that there is no gap such that a limb or extremities could get caught between the inner mesh wall of the crib and the infant sleeping surface structure. In preferable embodiments, the breathable sleeping surface is made from a material that is breathable and tightly woven so a newborn sized finger cannot pass through the material. In further embodiments the breathable sleeping surface is made to hold weight in the range of 0 to about 300 pounds. In exemplary embodiments, the breathable sleeping surface contains about 1 to about 10 support posts. The breathable sleeping surface can be of a wide range of dimensions that are fit to make the structure safe and durable and is thus not limited to the design as described in this document and is subject to change. In preferable embodiments, the structure is the size and shape of the crib's mattress, but is not limited to these dimensions. In other embodiments the width of the structure matches the width between the inner mesh walls of the crib and is a bit shorter in length than the length of the crib, thus making it easy to attach and detach the breathable sheet from the hooks for cleaning.

[0138] The structure which supports the mesh sleeping surface and walls will be made of either wood, metal or plastic, or other suitable material and in some embodiments, covered with an appropriate cushioning material, such as, for example, foam rubber or similar material, to further prevent impact injury. The sleep surface and walls may be made of Phifertex.RTM. mesh, spacer mesh or other polyester mesh or the like. All materials should contain non-toxic, or otherwise eco-friendly components and fire proof coating if necessary and comply by the safety standards of materials used for baby products, and the safety standards recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

[0139] Anti-Bunching Crib Sheet.

[0140] The Anti-Bunching Crib Sheet (70) is a sheet made to reduce bunching or ripples in the fabric of the crib sheet. The ripples or bunching in a regular fitted sheet can create areas where a baby's face can get caught, blocking the child's ability to breathe, or causing the child to rebreathe what they have exhaled. This creates the possibility of suffocation and other hazardous issues. The Anti-Bunching Crib Sheet is made to pull the material on the sleeping surface taught enough so that there are no ripples that bunch up in the sheet.

[0141] The Anti-Bunching Crib Sheet is made of two segments. A TOP SURFACE segment (also referred to herein as the "first fitted sheet portion" 72) and a BOTTOM SURFACE segment (also referred to herein as the "second anti-bunching portion" 74). The area of the sheet that is the sleeping surface (the TOP SURFACE segment) may be any sheet material such as cotton, flannel, or jersey. However it is preferred that the sheet be made with an air permeable fabric, or layers of air permeable fabric, such as spacer mesh. Even more preferred, is a sheet that is made of one or more layers of spacer mesh and combined with a fully adhered or otherwise sewn in or compressed top surface layer which is made of cotton or otherwise soft material, that is created with the exact same breathable holes as the spacer mesh. Thus, the sheet itself is made of all breathable material, and furthermore, the top layer of breathable material is made with a soft fabric that is non-abrasive to a baby's delicate skin. The sheet can be waterproof or otherwise lined with a waterproof material so no wetness can damage the mattress, eliminating the need to put a separate waterproof pad underneath the crib sheet, which can cause ripples and bunching underneath the sheet. Connected, or fully sewn, to the perimeter of the sleeping surface area of the sheet (the area where the vertical sides of the mattress begin) is a strong elastic material with a zipper located at the further most edge of the elastic material, which is nearest the bottom surface segment.

[0142] The BOTTOM SURFACE SEGMENT is adhered, or otherwise placed and secured to the middle of the bottom surface of the mattress, and contains the zipper, to which the TOP SURFACE SEGMENT of the sheet is then connected. As the two segments zip together, the sheet is pulled taught from top surface to bottom surface all the way around the mattress and is secured in place. This reduces any chance of ripples or bunching in the sheet that may occur on an otherwise unsecured fitted crib sheet, which is not secured in place and has the potential to become rippled and bunched upon the sleeping surface when a baby moves about in their sleep. The Anti-Bunching Crib sheet is also made to be machine washable.

[0143] It should be noted that the entire invention and components or embodiments within, may be made in virtually any practical dimension. Larger enclosures, such that would accommodate a larger mattress, and smaller enclosures, such as bedside cribs are within the scope of the invention. Furthermore, embodiments of the invention may be produced in any shape within the realm of practicality, though a rectangular shape with rounded corners is preferred in some instances.

[0144] Although the phrase "baby crib" is used herein to generally describe the invention, the crib can be of a wide range of sizes, such as to be suitable for newborns, infants, or toddlers and the design can even be implemented in sizes large enough to use as a safe enclosure for older children. Thus, while some specific exemplary dimensions are given herein, the design is general and flexible enough that it can be implemented in embodiments, which do not conform to and are not limited by the given dimensions.

[0145] Except as may be expressly otherwise indicated, the article "a" or "an" if and as used herein is not intended to limit, and should not be construed as limiting, the description or a claim to a single element to which the article refers. Rather, the article "a" or "an" if and as used herein is intended to cover one or more such elements, unless the text expressly indicates otherwise.

[0146] Each and every patent or other publication or published document referred to in any portion of this specification is incorporated in tow into this disclosure by reference, as if fully set forth herein.

[0147] This invention is susceptible to considerable variation in its practice. Therefore the foregoing description is not intended to limit, and should not be construed as limiting, the invention to the particular exemplifications presented hereinabove.

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