US 20080185880 A1
An easily attachable, washable food, utensil and debris catcher device is easily fitted to all types of commercially available high chairs using a wide variety of attachment structures and operates to hold any small items or food spilled in the area of the child's seat and legs which would otherwise pass through to the floor. The catcher is designed to be attached to and detached from the high chair quickly and easily, yet can be attached for long periods of time especially where it is employed to catch dry objects such as toys or dry food such as whole peas or cereal. The catcher can be made from a wide range of material and can employ a wide range of attachment systems, including snap members, hook and loop members, hook and eyelet members, and latch members to name a few. Construction of the catcher is illustrated as well as variations in the construction which may enable the shape of the deployed catcher to be altered as well as one and two ply versions.
1. A catcher for use with a seat structure comprising:
an expanse of material having a first edge having a first end and a second end, and a second edge having a first end meeting said first end of said first edge and a second end meeting at said second end of said first edge;
a first attachment member attached to said expanse of material adjacent said first end of said first edge;
a second attachment member attached to said expanse of material adjacent said second end of said first edge, said first and second attachment members for attachment to lateral sides of a seat structure to catch debris passing through said seat structure.
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The present invention relates to a safe, convenient, easy to attach and remove structure and method for capture and disposal of food and debris dropped by an infant from a seating structure resulting in reduced cleanup for child care givers.
Children are typically seated in high chairs during mealtime for a variety of reasons. Advantages include mealtime socialization, the ability to interact with the child at seated level, the ability to reach and help the child at mealtime, and the ability to keep the child orderly. One of the main purposes of the use of a high chair is to transition from having the parent feed the child to having the child feed himself/herself. Children are either fed or allowed to feed themselves using a plate of food placed on a table tray or other forward member attached to nearly all high chairs.
Regardless of the extent to which training has occurred, nearly any interaction by the child will result in food, utensil and food container spillage. Food dropped, especially with younger children, typically falls down his or her chest, between or to the side of the child's legs and onto the floor. Consequently, there is a sticky, mushy mess on the floor that must be cleaned.
Some of the devices in use to prevent spillage include a high chair catch attachment as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,660,432 to Davis as a plurality of additional trays mounted to either side of a high chair to present some probability of retaining debris before it hits the floor. Given that the probability stopping dropped food is proportional to the distance from the high chair as well as the area taken occupied by the trays, the device of Davis has a small probability, about 10% to capture dropped food and items. Further, the trays protruding from the sides of the high chair are easy for adults to trip over and run into resulting in injury.
Another device commonly used to protect the floor area adjacent the high chair is a flexible sheet that is placed directly on the floor and upon which the high chair is placed, little more than a plastic paint drop cloth. This type of device has several disadvantages. Disposability results in significant waste for a large sheet, whereas cleaning the sheet may be as difficult as cleaning food from the floor. This device cannot easily move with the high chair to another location.
Another device is illustrated by U.S. Pat. No. 4848834 to Linski as a specialized structure for used with a chair having no legs and which attaches to the side of a professional sturdily supported restaurant table. Linski provides a drape which extends from underneath the table at a point about 3 feet from the edge and which extends underneath and attaches at the back of the chair attached to the table. This arrangement requires a very sturdy, very heavy table, and takes advantage of the fact that such a specialized table-chair lacks legs and in fact, the chair becomes part of the table.
What is needed is a device which is suitable for commonly commercially available high chairs which will prevent the major portion of food spillage, namely that which falls down the child's chest and legs. The needed device should be easily usable and either washable or disposable. It should be able to work in conjunction with any commercially available high chair.
An easily attachable, washable food, utensil and debris catcher device (hereinafter referred to simply as “catcher”) is easily fitted to all types of commercially available high chairs using a wide variety of attachment structures. The catcher device catches and holds any small items or food spilled in the area of the child's seat and legs. The catcher is designed to be attached to and detached from the high chair quickly and easily, yet can be attached for long periods of time especially where it is employed to catch dry objects such as toys or dry food such as whole peas or cereal.
The catcher may preferably have attachment points to the underside of the high chair tray, or other forward member, as well as to the high chair tray support, including horizontal and vertical parts of the high chair arms. The catcher has a lower structure which may be preferably engaged about a lower structure on the high chair such as a foot rest or other convenient structure the high chair may have. Such lower engagement may be accomplished through a contractible urged edge or some other engagement structure which may or may not be elastically urged. The catcher may have internal structures which range from additional areas of material to seams to stiffening members where it is desired to promote a given shape.
In normal use, the catcher can be detached from both sides of the high chair with two hands and brought downwardly slightly to be removed from underneath the foot support in a way that leaves the bottom most portion of the catcher lower than the front or rear edges. Debris supported by the catcher can be dumped, the catcher can be optionally turned inside out to reveal the contents and presence of any adhered materials. The catcher can then either be replaced onto the high chair, or washed in a conventional washing machine or hand washed.
The catcher is compact and easily rinsed by hand and can be made of such thin material that it is unnecessary to take special procedures to dry it. In most instances it is not necessary to have to wait for it to dry before reattaching it to the highchair.
The catcher of the invention is particularly ideal for children who are between the ages of five and twelve months, especially when they are able to pick up food and place it in their mouths, but haven't started to mischievously throw the food off the sides of the highchair. It is believed that no structure or method can deliver the convenience, safety, and flexibility to cure the spillage of food in a limited structural manner as can the catcher of the present invention.
The catcher may be of a “rip stop nylon” material. It may be water impervious and as lightweight as possible. Such material will enable the catcher constructed to not only be lightweight, but also washable and to dry quickly. The catcher, when stretched flat approximates a half moon in shape. The construction of one embodiment of the catcher may preferably start with a circle of material, and then folded to a two ply semi circle. Elastic may be attached to operate within or adjacent the fold to cause it to contract. Attachment members may be attached at one or more points adjacent the curved periphery for attachment to corresponding attachment areas on the high chair, such as under the tray, adjacent the arms or arm supports. “Darts” or wedge shaped cutouts may occur along the periphery in order to shorten its radial extent, eliminate the need or tendency to form pleats or open gaps in the upper portion when placed against the tray, or generally to assist in forming a convex front profile. The darts may be adjusted in angular width and depth to achieve the convex shape (viewed from the front of the high chair and side profile of the high chair. In terms of the filled-out concave shape of the catcher as it is attached to a high chair, the darts not only eliminate folds which might be formed upon a snug fit to the high chair tray, but also generally help to form the side edges of the concave shape and define the transition from the front of the catcher to its sides. In essence, the darts eliminate the need for thick pleats at the front top of the catcher and enable the front top to be so lightweight as to be almost self supporting, although additional attachment members may be present. The shape of the darts can be modified to give shape effects to the convex front of the catcher once it is in place.
Attachment may be had with interlocking hook-like and felt-like members with one of the set of members, preferably the hook-like members attached to the high chair, and the felt like members attached to the catcher so that upon washing the felt-like members do not catch on other articles being washed. Other attachment mechanisms can be used including hook and eyelet, snap, magnetic, pocket and insert, and more. Where attachment members are complementary, it is a matter of choice as to which of the complementary attachment members is attached to the catcher and which are anchored to the high chair.
Ideally, the catcher may have a minimum of one and preferably two or more pairs of generally symmetrically oppositely located attachment members. In this configuration, the more forward pair of attachment member attach to the high chair food tray at forward most points adjacent the “turn” of the edges of the catcher toward each other to form the front panel. A rearward most pair of attachment members provide rearward most attachment locations holding up the catcher adjacent and high with respect to the location of the legs of the child. These rearward most attachment points help hold a continuation of the rearward extent of the upper part of the catcher, and also provide force and support against the lowermost portion of the catcher which may be elastically urged against the underside of the foot support, if present.
It is preferred that the high chair have at least a partially downwardly and partially forwardly disposed portion of the front seat which may be a foot support or may be a leg guide. In modern high chairs, the seat may be molded to comfortably conform to the child's body and provide a leg guide integral with the seat to gently guide most of the child's body and shield it from any sharp edges or other undesirable surfaces. As a result, most modern high chairs have a leg guide possibly terminating in a forward extending foot support. The ability of the catcher to engage some rearward portion of the leg guide enables the catcher to be used with very little interaction with the child. In essence, the child will only be able to make contact with the catcher by stretching his or her legs to the side near the support points, with the catcher providing a significantly spaced forward enveloping area which many children may not be able to contact.
In the configuration described, the catcher is able to be used with minimum disruption or distraction of the child and very little ability of the child to remove the catcher. Further, the catcher is such that it has a broad front area to support patterns, colors, and promotional logos and names.
The invention, its configuration, construction, and operation will be best further described in the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
The description, construction and operation of the catcher of the invention will be best illustrated by beginning with the construction of the catcher. An expanse of material 21 is provided which may be cut to a circular shape or to an oval shape. Material 21 may preferably be made from polyurethane having a thickness of perhaps 3 mils. An alternative set of cutting lines are seen as cutting line 23 which may preferably form a blended radius for reduction of the effective radius by about 75% and a cutting line 25 which may preferably form a blended radius for reduction of the effective radius by about 83%.
A pair of dart cutting lines 31 and 33 and a pair of dart cutting lines 35 and 37 are shown on the upper half of the expanse of material 21. A pair of dart cutting lines 41 and 43 and a pair of dart cutting lines 45 and 47 are shown on the lower half of the expanse of material 21.
The expanse of material can be any size, but may have a maximum radius of about sixty inches down to about forty inches, but for certain models of high chairs the maximum radius may preferably be about forty eight inches. The dart cut lines 31, 33, 35, 37, 41, 43, 45 and 47 can be varied greatly in both length, angle of separation and angle with respect to the effective center of the expanse of material 21. Further, the darts may be slightly offset. The cut lines 33 & 35 may be farther from each other than the cuts lines 43 and 45. As will be shown this will provide for some offsets of the resulting darts in the resulting two ply catcher.
Thus, a two-ply material would actually involve forming four darts, two on each side of the material. The two-ply material also allows the formed darts to have stitch lines which are internal for a better finished look, as well as having internally protruding seems offset from each other, which can also contribute to the overall shape of the resulting catcher.
The view of
With respect to the darts 61 and 71, (as well as the two darts which are associated with cutting lines 31 & 33 and 35 & 37), the angle of the darts 61 and 71 with regard to the middle of the folded edge 51, the depth of darts 61 and 71, and the width of material taken out to form the darts 61 and 71 will control the three dimensionality of the resulting catcher 81, especially the apparent shape when it is engaged to a high chair (as will be shown).
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As will be shown the periphery which is generally co-extensive with the edge 51 will provide a force component to draw the center of the edge 51 underneath a either a foot support or some other stable anchoring members to enable the catcher to form a stable pocket. As a result, the number and availability of the fasteners along edge 51 can be used to provide further anchoring force, and can help control the catcher 81 more completely if desired.
Conversely, a curved edge 91 will be in a more upwardly directed position and will attach adjacent the tray of a high chair. As will be shown, the material removed which shortens the radius, as well as the material removed for the darts 61 and 71 help take up the excess material to insure a good fit about a high chair tray.
Attached to the main support member 103 are arm rails 109 which support a tray bracket 111. The arm rails 109 and main support member 103 may have attached or be formed with a form fitting seat 113 which may extend to and be formed integrally with a guided leg and foot support 115.
The tray bracket 111 typically includes a mechanism for supporting a tray 117, or other high chair 101 forward and preferably upper member. The tray bracket 111 typically enables the tray to be slid forward or rearward and in some cases removed altogether. The design theme for most modern high chairs is that the child should be completely isolated from the operation mechanism. Thus, the tray 117 extends significantly beyond the bracket 111. Given the form fitting seat 113 and the fact that the bracket 111 mechanical features are on the outside and underneath the tray, the child is isolated from the mechanism and can contact only smooth surfaces. The views of the form fitting seat 113 and the guided leg and foot support 115 are exterior views of structure which continuously surround the child and do not illustrate the full degree to which the child is isolated from the chair mechanism.
The structures on any given high chair can provide a number of places for attachment of members by which the fasteners 85 and 87 may be attached. It should be noted that the food & debris catcher 81 is very lightweight and it will take very little structural dependence in order to be fully supported. A first anchoring attachment member 121 is seen as supported by the tray bracket 111. The first anchoring attachment member 121 will typically engage the fastener 85 as the upper and rearward most point of attachment for the catcher 81. A second anchoring attachment member 123 is seen in phantom and as supported underneath the tray 117 by any structural element. The second anchoring attachment member 123 will typically engage the fastener 87 to hold up the front of the catcher 81. As will be shown, the overwhelming bulk of the force will be held by the first anchoring attachment member 121 and the fastener 85 because of the pulling stress due to an elastic member associated with the edge 51. The portion of the catcher 81 at the curved edge 91 need only hold up the weight of the material adjacent the curved edge 91 and the fasteners 87 which are typically spaced apart are usually sufficient.
The continuous stitch 53 seen in
A smooth molded formfitting seat bottom and surface 129 is shown leading to a smooth form fitting lateral side and back surface 131 of the guided leg and foot support 115. The transition between the bottom of the seat bottom and surface 129 and the back of lateral side and back surface 131 corresponds to area where the child's knee would bend. The seat bottom and surface 129 forms a natural funnel forward to the transition to the form fitting lateral side and back surface 131 with any food or debris able to escape to the floor upon which the high chair 101 is sitting only forward of the transition.
However, because the catcher 81 is in place, a particle 133 of food or debris or a utensil 135 has no placed to go but into the bottom of the catcher 81, where such particles 133 collect for later disposal. Other details seen are the structural tray members 137 which are usually extensive and accessible from underneath the tray 117. Any available structure can be used to attach the second anchoring attachment member 123 to hold up the front of the catcher 81. Also seen is dart 71 on the inside of the catcher 81.
When it is desired to dump the particles 133, the user merely detaches the located fasteners 87 (since the front of the catcher will not likely fall forward with fasteners 85 still attached) and then simultaneously detach the fasteners 85 while bringing the whole catcher 81 low enough so that edge 51 (which remains significantly high above the lowest part of the catcher 81 to prevent spillage of the particles 133) clear the underneath portion of the guided leg and foot support 115 as it is brought forward. The catcher 81 can be then dumped into a receptacle and washed, if desired.
While the present invention has been described in terms of a system and method for providing controllable capture of items dropped with respect to a high chair, one skilled in the art will realize that the structure and techniques of the present invention can be applied to many structures, including any structure or technique where an efficient capture and isolation of food, objects, utensils can be had with respect to a furniture object or child seat.
Although the invention has been derived with reference to particular illustrative embodiments thereof, many changes and modifications of the invention may become apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, included within the patent warranted hereon are all such changes and modifications as may reasonably and properly be included within the scope of this contribution to the art.