FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to storage and dispensing devices that store baby bottles, nipples, and lids and dispenses powdered formula.
An ever-increasing percentage of mothers have supplemented or replaced breast-feeding with bottle-feeding for their babies. In response to more working mothers and changes in society, more and more fathers have taken an active roll in feeding their babies, further popularizing bottle feeding. Bottle-feeding demands that bottles, nipples, lids, and formula be readily available when the child is hungry and cries. The baby's cries of hunger often come at the most inopportune times such as when there are no full bottles available. At such times, the frazzled parent is required to quickly locate a bottle and a nipple, and place formula in the bottle while attempting to deal with the crying child. This is especially difficult if the parent has just been awaken from a deep sleep or is trying to accomplish this in the dark.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Formula is available as a liquid or powder. The liquid, although more convenient, is much more expensive than the powdered type. The powdered formula is typically dehydrated liquid formula, is measured to obtain the desired amount and then mixed with water resulting liquid formula. The powdered formula, the measuring tool, the bottles and nipples all require storage. The storage of these items, however, is often in separate locations making access to the storage difficult during both day and night feedings. A need therefore exists for a device, which can conveniently store baby bottles, nipples, lids measuring tools and powdered formula in one accessible location.
The present invention fills this need by providing for a device for storing basically everything needed for quickly preparing a baby bottle with formula. This includes a container for storing and dispensing powdered baby formula, rods extending from a frame for storing baby bottles, a container for storing small items like nipples, smaller rods extending from the frame to hang baby bottle rings, and a dispenser containing baby bottle liners. In a preferred embodiment, the powdered formula dispenser has a means for dispensing a predefined amount of the powdered baby formula. Also, the container that holds the small items such as bottle nipples, has a porous bottom, such as a screen, to allow water to drip down to a drip tray. The drip tray is beneath the container to capture fluid dripping from the screened bottom. Preferably, the drip tray extends along the length of the device to capture moisture dripping from drying bottles and rings.
In a preferred embodiment, the container that dispenses the powdered formula has a plunger slidable seated within a sleeve and the sleeve is positioned below the container. The container has a structure forming a tunnel through the plunger, a structure forming a first opening in a bottom of the container, the first opening positioned to line up with the tunnel when the plunger is in a first position within the sleeve; and a second opening positioned on the sleeve below the plunger, the second opening positioned to line up with the tunnel when the plunger is in a second position within the sleeve, such a predetermined amount of powdered baby formula within the container will flow out of the first opening and into the tunnel when the plunger is in the first position, and said powdered baby formula will flow out of the tunnel and through the second opening when the plunger is in the second position.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention is further comprised of a method for preparing filling a baby bottle with liquid baby formula using a baby bottle storage/powdered baby formula storage and dispensing unit of the present invention. One takes a bottle that is being stored on a bottle storing means extending from a frame of of the unit. The bottle is placed in fluid contact with an opening of a container that stores powdered formula and a plunger is engaged at a first position that allows powdered formula to flow out of the container through an opening in the container and into a tunnel within the plunger. The plunger is then engaged into a second position and the tunnel is lined up with a second opening beneath the first opening that allows the predetermined amount of powdered formula to flow through the tunnel through the second opening out of the container into the baby bottled positioned beneath the second opening. One then adds liquid, preferably water, to the bottle and mixes the liquid and the powdered formula together. A nipple and a bottle ring, which are also stored on or in said unit are secured onto the bottle allowing a child to drink liquid formula from the bottle. In an alternative embodiment, water could also be added to the bottle prior to the powdered formula being dispensed into the bottle.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the baby bottle and formula storage and dispensing device.
FIG. 2 is a top view of the device.
FIG. 3 is a front elevated view of the device.
FIG. 4 is a side view of the device, showing the drip tray and the first container.
FIG. 5 is a partial perspective view of the device, showing the drip tray and the first container.
FIG. 6 is a partial perspective view of the device, showing a cover hinged to the first container.
FIG. 7A is a partial cross-sectional view of the device taken along 7 a-7 a of FIG. 2 showing the plunger in a fill position.
FIG. 7B is a partial cross-sectional view of the device taken along line 7 b-7 b of FIG. 2 showing the plunger in a dispensing position.
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the device taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 1 showing the plunger.
FIG. 9 is a partial perspective cut-away view of the device, showing a bottle-brush holder attached to the first container.
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the nipple holder of the alternative embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 1 through 4 show a baby bottle and formula storage and dispensing device. The device is preferably constructed from a polymeric or plastic material and includes a frame 12. The frame 12 has a plurality of mounting holes 14 extending there-through such that the device can be mounted to a surface, for example a kitchen cabinet. Bottle support poles 17 extend outward from a central portion of frame 12 adapted for supporting bottles 90 thereon. The support poles 17 pitch downward toward the frame to enhance support and drainage of the bottles 90.
Mounted at one end of the frame 12 and adjacent to the central portion of frame 12 is a first container 16 for storing nipples 80 therein. Although the first container 16 is shown having only nipples 80 therein, it is contemplated that other items such as bottle lids and nipple rings can be stored as well. A first cover 18 having a first tab 19 is attached to the first container 16 by a first hinge 20 (FIG. 6). The first tab 19 is provided to facilitate the raising and lowering of the first cover 18 by the user and permit access to the interior of the first container 16.
Referring to FIG. 1 in conjunction with FIG. 5, a drip tray 21 extending from a rear wall 25 is removably attached to the first container 16. Rear wall 25 extending downwardly from storage container 16 has a notched portion 23 dimensioned to slide within a corresponding channel 24 formed in the bottom of the first container 16 and to permit the drip tray 21 to be detached from the first container 16 for emptying and washing. Drip tray 21 extends is substantially within a horizontal plane and extends underneath storage container 16, and frame 12. In use, it is envisioned that the user will place recently washed nipples 80 into the first container 16 for drying and storage. Runoff from the nipples 80 will drip out through a screen 44 (FIG. 9) in the bottom of the first container 16 and be collected within the drip tray 21, which is positioned there below. The drip tray 21 is positioned to also collect runoff from the bottles 90 supported on the support poles 17. After collecting runoff, the drip tray 21 can then be slid off of the first container 16, emptied, and slid back onto the first container 16 as described above.
Referring to FIGS. 1 through 4, a powdered formula container 26 is mounted to the other end of the frame 12 and defines an internal space for storing powdered formula therein. A second cover 28 having a second tab 29 is attached to the powdered formula container 26 by a second hinge (not shown). The second hinge is similar in configuration and operation to the first hinge 20. The second tab 29, similar to first tab 19 is provided to facilitate the raising and lowering of the second cover 28 by the user and permit access to the interior of the powdered formula container 26.
Referring now to FIGS. 7A, 7B and 8 in conjunction with FIG. 1, a plunger 30 is shown slidably seated within a sleeve 34. The sleeve 34 fits closely around the plunger 30 and is integral with and positioned below the powdered formula 26. The plunger 30 is substantially rectangular box-shaped and includes a button 30A projecting outward from a front side 30B thereof. The button 30A protrudes outward through the sleeve 34. A spring, 32, is mounted between a backside 30C, of the plunger, 30, against a front wall, 34B, of the sleeve 34.
The powdered formula container 26 includes a curved bottom 48 with structure forming a bottom opening 50 at the low point of the curved bottom 48. The plunger 30 includes a structure forming a tunnel 36 there through. When the plunger 30 is urged against the front wall 34B, the tunnel 36 lines up with the bottom opening 50, allowing a predefined amount of powdered formula to exit the powdered formula container 26 and enter the tunnel 36.
A spout 38 is positioned on the sleeve 34 and beneath the plunger 30. When the button 30A is pressed, the plunger 30 moves towards the back wall 34A and the spring 32 compresses, until the tunnel 36 lines up with the spout 38, allowing the powdered formula to exit the tunnel 36 and to flow through the spout 38. It is envisioned that the user will place the baby bottle 90 beneath the spout 38 and then press and release the plunger 30, thereby releasing powdered formula from the powdered formula container 26, into the tunnel 36, then out through the spout 38 and into the baby bottle 90.
The tunnel 36 is shown curved, but other shapes are possible, including a straight cylindrical or rectangular shape.
Referring to FIG. 9, the screen 44 can be seen through the cut-away view of the first container 16. A clip 40 is mounted to the side of the first container 16 for holding a bottlebrush 46. The storage device is configured and dimensioned to be usable with a variety of pre-manufactured bottles 90, nipples 80, and bottlebrushes 46.
FIG. 10 shows and another embodiment of the present invention. The primary differences between this embodiment and the one depicted in FIGS. 1-9 include the following changes. The formula dispenser 26 is bottle-shaped and attached to the formula dispenser is a bottle liner dispenser 92 into which baby bottle liners 94 are inserted and can be removed one. A round lid 102 is present to snap onto the top of formula dispenser 26. A liner 94 can be inserted into a bottle 90 prior to formula or milk being placed into the bottle 90. Nipple holder 16 has a bottom 96, which is a screen to allow drainage of any liquid from the nipple holder to drip tray 21. Wall 25 of drip tray 21 has a plurality of poles 98 extending from wall 25 under screen 96 each pole being adapted for supporting bottle rings 100, which can be hung for storage.
While the above-described embodiment of the present invention contains many specifics, the description should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of the invention.
Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiment illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.