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Title:
CHILD CARRIER WITH BASE WIDTH ADJUSTMENT RAIL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/140570
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
According to one embodiment, an adjustable child carrier comprises a waist belt adapted for securing about a wearer's hips, a guide rail coupled to the waist belt and a main body main body adapted to form a child carrying area in cooperation with a wearer's torso. The main body comprises a torso support portion configured for supporting at least of the torso of a child, a bucket seat portion configured to form an bucket seat and a lower portion extending below an upper of edge of the waist belt and coupled to the guide rail, the lower portion adjustable along the guide rail to adjust a base width of the bucket seat. The child carrier may further comprise a first shoulder strap coupled to the main body and a second shoulder strap coupled to the main body. A child carrier may further include a height adjuster.

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Inventors:
ANDRUS, Cassandra Kay (1650 Kauhikoa Road, Haiku, Hawaii, 96708, US)
TUSZEWICKA, Urszula (2640 Financial Ct, Suite ESan Diego, California, 92117, US)
Application Number:
US2018/015177
Publication Date:
August 02, 2018
Filing Date:
January 25, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
NEW BABY TULA LLC (2640 Financial Ct, Suite ESan Diego, California, 92117, US)
International Classes:
A47D13/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013079296A12013-06-06
Foreign References:
DE202011103052U12011-08-25
US20120298702A12012-11-29
US9380888B22016-07-05
US4434920A1984-03-06
US20160150893A12016-06-02
US20170150826A12017-06-01
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADAIR, John L. (SPRINKLE IP LAW GROUP, 1301 W. 25th Street Suite 40, Austin Texas, 78705, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. An adjustable child carrier comprising:

a waist belt adapted for securing about a wearer's hips;

a guide rail coupled to the waist belt;

a main body main body adapted to form a child carrying area in cooperation with a wearer's torso, the main body comprising:

a torso support portion configured for supporting at least of the torso of a child;

a bucket seat portion configured to form an bucket seat; and a lower portion extending below an upper of edge of the waist belt and coupled to the guide rail, the lower portion adjustable along the guide rail to adjust a base width of the bucket seat; and

a first shoulder strap coupled to the main body and a second shoulder strap coupled to the main body.

2. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein the bucket seat is configurable in a plurality of bucket seat configurations to accommodate a plurality of child sizes, each of the plurality of bucket seat configurations having a bucket seat depth and bucket seat width and adapted to support a child in a corresponding size range in a spread squat position, and wherein the lower portion is settable in a range of widths along the guide rail to select a bucket seat configuration from the plurality of bucket seat configurations.

3. The child carrier of claim 2, wherein the plurality of bucket seat configurations comprises:

a first configuration adapted to support a child in a first size range in a first corresponding spread squat position;

a second configuration adapted to support a child in a second size range in a second corresponding spread squat position; and

a third configuration adapted to support a child in a third size range in a third corresponding spread squat position;

the first configuration having a first bucket seat base width and first bucket seat depth, the second configuration having a second bucket seat base width and a second bucket seat depth, the third configuration having a third bucket seat base width and third bucket seat depth, wherein the first bucket seat base width is less than the second bucket seat base width, the first bucket seat depth is greater than the second bucket seat depth, the second bucket seat base width is less than the third bucket seat base width and the second bucket seat depth is greater than the third bucket seat depth.

4. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein the guide rail is positioned to be located between the waist belt and the wearer during use.

5. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein in the guide rail is substantially thinner than an adjacent portion of the waist belt.

6. The child carrier of claim 1 , further comprising a rail follower that couples the lower portion to the guide rail.

7. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein the guide rail comprises a strap of fabric.

8. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein the lower portion forms a loop through which the guide rail passes, the laterally outer ends of the loop adjustable to adjust the base width.

9. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein the main body and waist belt have a fixed lateral alignment.

10. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein the child carrier has a wearable height that is dependent on bucket seat depth.

11. The child carrier of claim 1 , further comprising a height adjuster to adjust the height of the main body at the top of the main body.

12. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein the height adjuster comprises a first height adjustment strap coupled to the first shoulder strap and a second height adjustment strap coupled to the second shoulder strap.

13. The child carrier of claim 12, wherein:

an upper portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled to the main body at a first shoulder strap attachment point;

the first height adjustment strap is coupled to the main body at a first height adjustment strap first attachment point that is below the first shoulder strap attachment point and to the first shoulder strap at a first height adjustment strap second attachment point that is away from the first shoulder strap attachment point;

an upper portion of the second shoulder strap is coupled to the main body at a second shoulder strap attachment point;

the second height adjustment strap is coupled to the main body at a second height adjustment strap first attachment point that is below the second shoulder strap attachment point and to the second shoulder strap at a second height adjustment strap second attachment point that is away from the second shoulder strap attachment point.

14. The child carrier of claim 1 , wherein:

the first shoulder strap comprises a first shoulder strap split upper end with a first branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and a second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a first shoulder strap, second branch attachment point located at a different vertical location than the first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point.

15. The child carrier of claim 1 1 , wherein the second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end comprises a first height adjustment strap.

16. The child carrier of claim 12, wherein the first height adjustment strap is coupled to the first shoulder strap away from the first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and has an adjustable length, the first height adjustment strap adjustable to adjust the height of the carrier.

17. The child carrier of claim 1 1 , wherein:

the second shoulder strap comprises a second shoulder strap split upper end with a first branch of the second shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a second shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and a second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a second shoulder strap, second branch attachment point located at a different vertical location than the second shoulder strap, first branch first attachment point.

18. The child carrier of claim 14, wherein:

the second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end comprises a first height adjustment strap; and

the second branch of the second shoulder strap split upper end comprises a second height adjustment strap.

19. The child carrier of claim 12, wherein the first height adjustment strap is coupled to the first shoulder strap away from the first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and the second height adjustment strap is coupled to the second shoulder strap away from the second shoulder strap, second branch attachment point, the first height adjustment strap and second height adjustment straps adjustable to adjust the height of the carrier.

20. A method of configuring a child carrier, comprising:

adjusting a lower portion of a main body of the child carrier along a guide rail to adjust a base width of a bucket seat, the guide rail coupled to a waist belt of the child carrier and the lower portion extending below an upper edge of the waist belt;

securing the waist belt about a wearer's hips;

placing a child in a child carrying area formed by the main body in cooperation with the wearer's torso, the main body having a torso support portion configured for supporting at least of the torso of a child and a bucket seat portion forming the bucket seat; and

supporting the child in the carrier with a harness, the harness comprising the waist belt, a first shoulder strap and a second shoulder strap.

Description:
CHILD CARRIER WITH BASE WIDTH ADJUSTMENT RAIL

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of United States Provisional Application No. 62/450,465, filed January 25, 2017, entitled "CHILD

CARRIER WITH BASE WIDTH ADJUSTMENT RAIL AND/OR HEIGHT ADJUSTERS," which is hereby fully incorporated herein in its entirety for all purposes.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present disclosure relates to child carriers. Even more particularly, the present disclosure relates to a child carrier that is adaptable to ergonomically carry a child as the child grows.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Various child carriers are currently available for transporting a child by a parent or other individual. Child carriers have become popular for carrying infants and toddlers because they afford the wearer freedom of hand and arm movement while carrying a child. In pursuit of child safety, some of these devices have become overly complex involving, among other things, rigid seats and frames which considerably increase the weight of the carrier and cannot accommodate for the growth of the child. These complex carriers are relatively heavy and place an undue strain upon the wearer, particularly in the lumbar region. In addition, because of the size of many of the present day carriers, they can only be worn on the back thus denying the child the comfort and security of a position where a child and its mother may be in a face-to-face relationship.

[0004] Soft structured carriers have become increasingly popular because they are lighter, less cumbersome and more comfortable to wear. These carriers incorporate padding, stitching and fabrics, rather than a rigid frame, to provide the structure. However, some soft-structured carriers hold a child in an upright position with the child's legs hanging down and the base of the child's spine supporting the child's bodyweight. This position may not be optimal for infant and other young children. While an adult spine has four curves, a young child's spine only has two curves. A majority of a young child's spine will form a C-shape (so-called total kyphosis). Positioning a young child, particularly an infant, in an upright position may unduly limit curvature of the spine and puts stress on the infant's sacrum. This can cause the infant's pelvis to tilt backward limiting leg and hip movement, which may impede healthy development of the infant's pelvis.

[0005] Moreover, conventional soft structured carriers are usually designed for a very limited age, weight and size of child and make compromises regarding the shape of the carrier to accommodate a range of ages. Even if a carrier supports ergonomic positioning of the child at one age/weight/size, positioning a child in an ergonomic position through the range of ages while utilizing the same carrier poses a problem as different children develop at different rates and the anatomy and physiology of children changes dramatically between infancy and toddlerhood.

[0006] A carrier designed for infants or younger babies may not accommodate a child as the child grows into toddlerhood because the seat and back support portions of the carrier will become too small. In an attempt to make carriers more adaptable, some carriers provide additional panels that can be unfolded and added to the seat to widen the seat and/or back panels that can expand (e.g., by unfolding additional back panel material or attaching new panels) to accommodate the child's growth. However, simply widening the seat or lengthening the carrier does not adequately address proper ergonomics.

[0007] On the other hand, a carrier designed for older children may not properly support an infant. One solution to this problem is the use of a specially designed "infant insert," which is an accessory that incorporates additional padding and structure and makes it possible to carry a small infant in a carrier that would not otherwise properly support the infant. However, not all carriers support the use of infant inserts. Moreover, depending on design, infant inserts may be cumbersome, non-intuitive, and easily lost. In particular, the use of a separate infant insert may require that parents keep track of two separate devices and may significantly increase the difficulty of configuring the carrier for a wearer, the wearing of the carrier, or the ingress and egress of a child to the carrier.

SUMMARY

[0008] One embodiment comprises an adjustable child carrier having a waist belt adapted for securing about a wearer's hips, a guide rail coupled to the waist belt and a main body adapted to form a child carrying area in cooperation with a wearer's torso. The main body may comprise a torso support portion configured for supporting at least the torso of a child, a bucket seat portion configured to form a bucket seat and a lower portion extending below an upper edge of the waist belt and coupled to the guide rail. The lower portion can be adjustable along the guide rail to adjust the base width of the bucket seat. The child carrier may also include a first shoulder strap coupled to the main body and a second shoulder strap coupled to the main body. A rail follower may couple the lower portion to the guide rail. According to one embodiment, the lower portion forms a loop through which the guide rail passes, and the laterally outer ends of the loop are adjustable to adjust the base width.

[0009] The bucket seat can be configurable in a plurality of bucket seat configurations to

accommodate a plurality of child sizes. Each of the plurality of bucket seat

configurations can have a a bucket seat depth and bucket seat width and be adapted to support a child in a corresponding size range in a spread squat position. The lower portion of the main body can be settable in a range of widths along the guide rail to select a bucket seat configuration from the plurality of bucket seat configurations.

[0010] According to one embodiment, the guide rail is positioned to be located between the waist belt and the wearer during use. Moreover, the guide rail may be substantially thinner than an adjacent portion of the waist belt.

[0011] According to one embodiment, the plurality of bucket seat configurations comprises a first configuration adapted to support a child in a first size range in a first corresponding spread squat position, a second configuration adapted to support a child in a second size range in a second corresponding spread squat position and a third configuration adapted to support a child in a third size range in a third corresponding spread squat position. The first configuration may have a first bucket seat base width and first bucket seat depth, the second configuration may have a second bucket seat base width and a second bucket seat depth and the third configuration may have a third bucket seat base width and third bucket seat depth. The first bucket seat base width may be less than the second bucket seat base width. The first bucket seat depth may be greater than the second bucket seat depth. The second bucket seat base width may be less than the third bucket seat base width. The second bucket seat depth may be greater than the third bucket seat depth. The child carrier may have a wearable height that is dependent on bucket seat depth.

[0012] The child carrier can further comprise a height adjuster to adjust the height of the main body at the top of the main body. According to one embodiment, the height adjuster comprises a first height adjustment strap coupled to the first shoulder strap and a second height adjustment strap coupled to the second shoulder strap. An upper portion of the first shoulder strap can be coupled to the main body at a first shoulder strap attachment point and an upper portion of the second shoulder strap can be coupled to the main body at a second shoulder strap attachment point. The first height adjustment strap can be coupled to the main body at a first height adjustment strap first attachment point that is below the first shoulder strap attachment point and to the first shoulder strap at a first height adjustment strap second attachment point that is away from the first shoulder strap attachment point. The second height adjustment strap can be coupled to the main body at a second height adjustment strap first attachment point that is below the second shoulder strap attachment point and to the second shoulder strap at a second height adjustment strap second attachment point that is away from the second shoulder strap attachment point.

[0013] According to one embodiment, the first shoulder strap comprises a first shoulder strap split upper end with a first branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and a second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a first shoulder strap, second branch attachment point located at a different vertical location than the first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point. The second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end may comprise a first height adjustment strap. The first height adjustment strap can be coupled to the first shoulder strap away from the first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and has an adjustable length, the first height adjustment strap adjustable to adjust the height of the carrier. In one embodiment, the top portion of the carrier may fold or unfold between the branches as the height is adjusted.

[0014] The second shoulder strap may comprise a second shoulder strap split upper end with a first branch of the second shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a second shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and a second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at a second shoulder strap, second branch attachment point located at a different vertical location than the second shoulder strap, first branch first attachment point. The second branch of the first shoulder strap split upper end can comprises a first height adjustment strap and the second branch of the second shoulder strap split upper end can comprise a second height adjustment strap. The first height adjustment strap can be coupled to the first shoulder strap away from the first shoulder strap, first branch attachment point and the second height adjustment strap can be coupled to the second shoulder strap away from the second shoulder strap, second branch attachment point. The first height adjustment strap and second height adjustment straps can be adjustable to adjust the height of the carrier. In one embodiment, the top portion of the carrier may fold or unfold between the branches of the split upper ends as the height is adjusted. A method of configuring a child carrier may comprise: adjusting a lower portion of a main body of the child carrier along a guide rail to adjust a base width of a bucket seat, the guide rail coupled to a waist belt of the child carrier and the lower portion extending below an upper edge of the waist belt. The method may further include: securing the waist belt about a wearer's hips; placing a child in a child carrying area formed by the main body in cooperation with the wearer's torso, the main body having a torso support portion configured for supporting at least of the torso of a child and a bucket seat portion forming the bucket seat; and supporting the child in the carrier with a harness, the harness comprising the waist belt, a first shoulder strap and a second shoulder strap.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] The drawings accompanying and forming part of this specification are included to depict certain aspects of the invention. A clearer impression of the invention, and of the components and operation of systems provided with the invention, will become more readily apparent by referring to the exemplary, and therefore non-limiting, embodiments illustrated in the drawings, wherein identical reference numerals designate the same components. Note that the features illustrated in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale.

[0017] FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation of one embodiment of an adjustable child

carrier.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a side view of an adjustable carrier configured in a first configuration according to one embodiment.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic representation of an adjustable child carrier configured in a second configuration according to one embodiment.

[0020] FIG. 4A is a view of an interior side of an adjustable carrier according to one

embodiment.

[0021] FIG. 4B is a view of an exterior side of an adjustable carrier according to one

embodiment.

[0022] FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic representation of on embodiment a base width adjustment rail system.

[0023] FIG. 6A, FIG. 6B and FIG. 6C illustrate example settings of one embodiment of a base width adjuster.

[0024] FIG. 7 illustrates a correspondence between base width and wearable height according to one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0025] Child carriers and related methods and the various features and advantageous details thereof are explained more fully with reference to the nonlimiting embodiments that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings and detailed in the following description.

Descriptions of well-known starting materials, processing techniques, components and equipment are omitted so as not to unnecessarily obscure the invention in detail. It should be understood, however, that the detailed description and the specific examples, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention, are given by way of illustration only and not by way of limitation. Various substitutions, modifications, additions and/or rearrangements within the spirit and/or scope of the underlying inventive concept will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure.

[0026] The present disclosure relates to child carriers that allow a child, including an infant, to be carried in a manner that supports the child and maintains the child's pelvis and thighs in a preferred ergonomic position through a range of ages. In particular, embodiments described herein provide carriers that support the child's bottom, pelvis and thighs in a desired position. Embodiments described herein also allow a child to be carried in a wearer facing position on the front or back of the person carrying the child. The carrier can be worn by a user with the child's weight carried near the wearer's center of gravity and close to the wearer's front or back.

[0027] The adjustable child carrier can be configured to accommodate children of a wide range of sizes in a front or rear carrying position while supporting the child's hips, pelvis, bottom and both upper thighs when the child is being carried in various orientations. For example, embodiments of a child carrier as disclosed herein may provide an adjustable child carrier usable with a newborn children (infant) (e.g., around 7 pounds) and additionally with children all the way to up to around 45 pounds or more. Embodiments may thus be sized appropriately to carry an infant without the use of an additional infant insert. Configured according to such a setting, the carrier may be adapted for placement of a child in a child carrying area of the child carrier with the infant's knees raised. In one embodiment, when adjusted to accommodate an infant, the carrier is adapted to support the infant in a position with the infant's femur at an angle of 90-120 degrees from the coronal plane. Additionally, the carrier can be adapted to support the infant in a position with the infant's knees at 45-60 degrees from the median plane. In particular embodiments, the carrier can be adapted to promote a spread-squat-position.

[0028] In accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure, a carrier includes a bucket seat that can be adjusted in multiple configurations. According to one embodiment, a lower portion of a carrier main body is coupled to a rail on the waist belt of the carrier by rail followers. The rail followers may be adjusted to adjust the base width of the carrier. By adjusting the base width of the carrier, the depth of the carrier's seat may be adjusted. [0029] The carrier may have a plurality of bucket seat configurations. The plurality of bucket seat configurations comprises a first configuration adapted to support a child in a first size range in a first spread squat position; and a second configuration adapted to support a child in a second size range in a second spread squat position. The first configuration may have a first bucket seat width and first bucket seat depth and the second

configuration may have a second bucket seat width and a second bucket seat depth, wherein the first bucket seat width is less than the second bucket seat width and the first bucket seat depth is greater than the second seat bucket depth. The plurality of bucket seat configurations may comprise a third bucket set configuration. The third bucket seat configuration may have a bucket seat width that is greater than the second bucket set width and a bucket seat depth that that is less than the second bucket seat depth.

[0030] More particularly, a carrier may include a bucket seat for a child and one or more

adjustments that when adjusted serve to adjust a depth of the seat bucket and a height of the child carrier. When adjusted to a newborn setting, the carrier is configured such that the depth of the seat bucket may be at a maximum. Conversely, when adjusted to its maximum, or largest size, setting (e.g., a setting for the largest child the carrier is designed to accommodate) the depth of the seat bucket may be at a minimum. When the depth of the bucket seat is at a maximum the thighs may be supported such that the angle of the thighs of the child relative to the coronal plane may be greatest and when the depth of the bucket seat is at a minimum the thighs may be supported such that the angle of the thighs of the child relative to the coronal plane may be the smallest.

Similarly, then, the bucket seat is at a maximum, the carrier may be configured such that the carrier maintains a child carried therein with relatively more curve in their spine than when the bucket seat is at a minimum depth.

[0031] The carrier of certain embodiments may also be configured to adjust in height. In certain embodiments, the length of a main body remains consistent, but the wearable height changes depending on the setting of the bucket seat size. Wth the base width at its smallest/narrowest setting, the bucket seat is deeper consuming more of the carrier length measurement, thus leaving less measurement for the wearable height while, with the base width at its largest/widest setting, the bucket seat is shallower and consumes less of the carrier length measurement, thus leaving more measurement for the wearable height.

[0032] In addition or in the alternative, the carrier may include shoulder straps with height

adjusters that allow the top portion of the carrier to be reconfigured to achieve different heights. According to one embodiment, the shoulder straps of the carrier can have split upper ends with one branch of the split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at one point and the second branch of the split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at different vertical location. By adjusting the length of the branch that connects to the lower vertical location, the upper portion of the carrier can be folded down, decreasing the height of the carrier.

[0033] FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation of an outer view of one embodiment of an

adjustable carrier 100. FIG. 2 is a side view of adjustable carrier 100 configured in a first configuration according to one embodiment. FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic representation of adjustable carrier 100 configured in a second configuration according to one

embodiment. FIG. 4A is a view of an interior side of an adjustable carrier 100 according to one embodiment. FIG. 4B is a view of an exterior side of adjustable carrier 100 according to one embodiment. FIG. 5 is a view of one embodiment of a rail system in more detail.

[0034] As discussed in more detail below, embodiments of adjustable carrier 100 can include various adjustments so that carrier 100 can be adjusted to support the child in an ergonomic spread squat position appropriate for the weight or size of the child as the child grows, with the child's pelvis, bottom and thighs all being supported. Preferably, the child is supported throughout a range of development in an ergonomic spread squat position (also known as the "frog leg", "frog", "squat spread" or "M" position). In a spread squat position, the flexion at the hip joint is at least 90° and in some cases is 110° to 120° from the coronal plane, and the spreading angle can average at approximately 45- 55° from the median plane. As carrier 100 is adjustable, the angle of the hips and spread can depend on the settings of the carrier 100 and developmental stage of the child.

[0035] In one embodiment, the carrier can be adapted to support the child in a position with the child's femur approximately 90° to 120° (or other elevated position) from the coronal plane and to position the child's knees with an amount of spreading. The amount of spreading may depend on the developmental stage of the child and orientation with a newborn having less than 30°, then approximately 30°, then approximately 35°-40° and so on so, such that the final spread is approximately 40°-45° for an older child, though other amounts of spreading may be achieved including (e.g., for example approximately 55°). In one embodiment, the spreading may be at least 20° degrees from the median plane. The child's weight can be distributed across the child's bottom, thighs and back so that the sacrum does not bear too much weight and the child can rest with a more naturally curved "C" spine in a spread squat position that is believed to be better for pelvic development. It can be noted, however, that the child can be positioned in any comfortable position, preferably emphasizing a supportive posture rather than a posture where the child is primarily sitting on his or her sacrum.

[0036] Adjustable carrier 100 comprises a main body 1 10 coupled to a harness that allows a person to wear adjustable carrier 100. The harness includes a waist belt 200 and shoulder straps 300 (denoted individually as shoulder strap 300a and shoulder strap 300b) and may also include other harness members. When adjustable carrier 100 is worn, main body 1 10 forms a child carrying area in cooperation with the wearer's torso. A torso support portion 130 supports the upper body of the child while a bucket seat portion 125 provides a supportive bucket seat that supports the legs, hips and posterior of the child in an ergonomic position. Waist belt 200 and shoulder straps 300 can be adjusted to distribute the child's weight to the wearer.

[0037] Wth reference to FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B, in the embodiment illustrated, waist belt 200 comprises a wide padded section 210 that encircles the hips of the wearer when the carrier is in either a front or a rear carry position. Padded section 210 can be padded, for example, with a semi-rigid material and covered with fabric. This material can be stiff foam or any other appropriate material known or convenient, including closed cell foams such as ethylene-vinyl acetate (also known as EVA). The semi-rigid material and the wide shape of the waist belt 200 serves to distribute the weight of the child around waist of the wearer. The two ends of the padded section 210 are joined by strap sections 220a, 220b containing a releasable buckle having a male member 222a and a female member 222b. Limited adjustment of the waist belt length is provided by an adjusting loop formed at one of the buckle members. The ends of the waist belt may also be coupled together using other types of buckles, snaps, tying or other mechanisms.

[0038] Waist belt 200 further includes a rail 225 at padded section 210. In one embodiment, rail 225 is a fabric rail comprising a relatively thin (top-to-bottom) section of strap— relatively thin top-to-bottom compared to padded section 210— that is attached to the waist belt 200 such that there is an opening between the rail 225 and the adjacent portion of the waist belt 200 (e.g., portion 212 illustrated in FIG. 5) through which material can pass. The rail can be formed from the same strap that also forms strap sections 220a, 220b. In other embodiments, the waist belt 200 may be otherwise constructed. For example, rail 225 and strap sections 220a, 220b may be formed from discontinuous straps. Furthermore, while in the embodiment illustrated, rail 225 is formed from a flexible fabric (e.g., webbing), in other embodiments, rail 225 may be formed from other materials including, but not limited to other fabrics, composites, polymers or other materials including semi-rigid materials. Moreover, while rail 225 is illustrated on the interior side of waist belt 200, rail 225 may be disposed on the outer side of padded section 210. In addition, waist belt 200 may include multiple rails. A lower portion of main body 1 10 may couple to rail 225 as discussed below.

[0039] Main body 1 10 extends from a main body upper edge 1 16 to a main body lower edge 118. Main body 110 couples to waist belt 200 at lower portion 120, proximate to main body lower edge 118. In use, main body 110 provides material over the belt 200 so that bucket seat portion 125 forms a supportive bucket seat that provides ample support for the child's buttocks as well as for the back of the child's legs. More particularly, bucket seat portion 125 is adapted to pass from the outer side of the child carrying area (the side away from the wearer's torso) to the inner side to form a bucket seat. The supportive and adjustable bucket seat can have a generally concave (e.g., "C" shape) inner profile from the inner side to the outer side and from right to left. Side edges 1 12a, 112b at bucket seat portion 125 can be higher than the center of the seat and can be spaced such that the side edges 1 12a, 1 12b pass under and around the child's thighs at a distance from the child's hips such that the child's legs (e.g., above the knee) do not dangle down.

[0040] The areas proximate to side edges 1 12a, 112b at bucket seat portion 125 can provide thigh support areas 140a, 140b that pass under and around the child's thighs at a distance from the child's hips where the portions of the thigh support areas 140a, 140b that pass under and around the child's thighs are higher than the child's bottom so that the child's knees are lifted. The thigh support areas 140a, 140b can have sufficient stiffness such that the child's thighs may be encouraged to spread by the thigh support areas 140a, 140b or the wearer's torso. In one embodiment, thigh support areas 140a, 140b provide areas of thigh padding to support the child's thighs.

[0041] The base width of the bucket seat (width of the bucket seat proximate to waist belt 200) can be adjusted by adjusting the width of lower portion 120. In accordance with one embodiment, the lower portion 120 of main body 110 is coupled to rail followers that are movable, predominantly laterally, along a guide rail 225 of waist belt 200 to gather or release material of lower portion 120 and thereby adjust the base width of the bucket seat. The rail followers can comprise loops of material, clips or other structures that can follow rail 225 to gather or release fabric of lower portion 120. For example, the rail followers may slide along rail 225.

[0042] FIG. 5 illustrates one embodiment of a rail system for adjusting the base width of the carrier seat. In the embodiment of FIG. 5, lower portion 120 of main body 110 passes to the inner side of waist belt's upper edge 202 to overlap waist belt 200. The lower portion 120 couples to rail 225. In the embodiment illustrated, lower portion 120 is stitched or otherwise constructed to form a loop or tunnel through which rail 225 passes. The center of lower portion 120 can be fixed to rail 225 (e.g., at 144) or other portion of waist belt 200 so that main body 1 10 and waist belt 200 remain laterally aligned. The two sides of the loop form sleeves that act as rail followers 150a, 150b having laterally outer edges 152a and 152b that can be moved laterally along rail 225 to gather or release lower portion 120, thus decreasing or increasing the lateral distance between edges 112a, 1 12b.

[0043] The carrier 100 includes securing mechanisms so that the width of lower portion 120, and hence the base width of the bucket seat portion 125, can be set. As illustrated in FIG. 5, the waist belt 200 may include spaced snaps 230 and each rail follower 150a, 150b may include a complementary snap so that the rail followers 150a, 150b can be secured in selected positions. More particularly, one embodiment includes female snaps located on the inside of the waist band 200 and male snaps on the outer side of the rail followers 150a, 150b. This configuration makes it difficult for the snaps to become undone because of the horizontal pressure on the snaps when the carrier is used. The use of snaps is providing by way of example and not limitation. The width of lower portion 120 may be set using a variety of securing mechanisms such as buttons, hook and loop material or other securing mechanisms.

[0044] With reference to FIG. 6A, FIG. 6B and FIG. 6C, positioning the rail followers 150 (e.g., positioning edges 152a, 152b) further outboard increases the width of the main body 110 where it meets waist belt 200 and increases the bucket seat width where the thigh support areas 140a, 140b pass under the child's thighs. Positioning the rail followers 150 (e.g., positioning edges 152a, 152b) further inboard decreases the width of main body 1 10 at the point main body 1 10 meets waist belt 200 and can serve to decrease the width of the bucket seat where thigh support areas 140a, 140b pass under the child's thighs. It can be noted that using a relatively narrow rail 225 allows the carrier to achieve a narrower base width than if the lower portion of main 1 10 were looped around padded section 210. [0045] In addition to controlling base width, the rail system can be used to control the depth of the bucket seat portion 125. With reference to FIG. 6A-FIG. 6C and FIG. 7, in a maximum (or widest) base width setting, the rail followers 150 may be fastened to the waist belt 200 such that edges 152a, 152b are maximally distal one another away from the center axis of the waist belt 200 (given the range or number of positions possible). In this maximum (or widest) base width setting, carrier 100 is configured such that the depth of the bucket seat portion125 is at a minimum. With a minimum (or narrowest) base width setting, the rail followers 150 may be fastened to the waist belt 200 such that edges 152a, 152b are maximally proximate one another toward the center axis of the waist belt 200 (given the range or number of positions possible). In this minimum base width setting, carrier 100 is configured such that the depth of the bucket seat portion 125 is at a maximum.

[0046] Carrier 100 may thus be adjusted to provide ergonomic support for the child regardless of the size of the child through a supported range. The child's weight can be supported so that the child is squatting in the seat rather than sitting with the child's weight primarily on the sacrum. In accordance with one embodiment, carrier 100 can be set for an infant with the base width set at its narrowest settings. In this configuration, the bucket seat will be at its deepest with higher walls at the thigh support areas 140a, 140b lifting the child's thighs and knees to a greater angle and into a spread squat position appropriate for that size child. Similarly, carrier 100 can be set for the largest child with the base width at its widest setting. In this configuration, the bucket seat may be at its shallowest depth with lower walls at the thigh support areas 140a, 140b lifting the child's thighs and knees to a lesser angle and into a spread squat position appropriate for a larger sized child.

[0047] Bucket seat portion 125 may include one or more shaping members 170 shaped,

oriented or otherwise configured to help control fullness of the bucket seat. The shaping members 170 can be configured, for example, to facilitate deepening of the bucket seat as lower portion 120 is gathered. In accordance with one embodiment, the shaping members are darts that run laterally inward from outer edges 1 12a, 112b. The darts can gather or ease as the base width is adjusted to help control the shape of the seat. Other configurations of darts and other shaping mechanisms, including, but not limited to, pleats, gathers or tucks, may also be used.

[0048] Wth reference to FIG. 7, carrier 100 may also adjust in height based on the base width.

In particular, adjusting the width of lower portion 120 adjusts the wearable back height (length from bottom of the bucket seat to top edge 1 16). This occurs because the length of the physical carrier material from the top edge 202 of the waist belt 200 at center to the top edge 1 16 of main body 110 at center, absence other adjustments, remains consistent such that the wearable back height changes depending on the setting of the bucket seat size. A deeper bucket consumes more length of material between edges 202 and 1 16, thus leaving less measurement for the wearable height On the other hand, a shallower bucket consumes less length of material between edges 202 and 116, thus leaving more measurement for the wearable height.

[0049] Thus, adjusted to a smallest child mode (e.g., an infant mode) (base width at its

smallest/narrowest setting) the bucket seat may be deeper consuming more of the carrier length measurement, thus leaving less measurement for the wearable height (length from bottom of the bucket seat to top edge 116 at center is at its shortest height). Adjusted to a largest child mode (e.g., a toddler mode) (base width at its largest/widest setting) the bucket seat is shallow consuming less of the carrier length measurement, thus leaving more measurement for the wearable height (length from bottom of the bucket seat to top edge 116). The carrier thus adjusts to the height of the child based on adjustment to the bucket seat.

[0050] As can be understood from the foregoing, the adjustable bucket seat is configurable in a plurality of configurations having different seat bucket depths and seat bucket widths. The different configurations can be adapted to support a child in a corresponding size range in a spread squat position. For example, in one embodiment, bucket seat can have a first configuration adapted to ergonomically carry a child of 20-24 inches (generally corresponding to an infant of 0-3 months and over 7 pounds) in a spread squat position appropriate for the infant without requiring an infant insert. Furthermore, the carrier can have a second configuration adapted to ergonomically carry a child of 24-28 inches (generally corresponding to an older baby of 3-9 months) in a spread squat position appropriate for that child's size. In addition, the carrier, in this example, can have a third configuration adapted to ergonomically carry a child of 28 inches or greater (generally corresponding to an older baby or toddler of 9-48 months (up to the carrying capacity of the carrier or the wearer)). The first configuration can correspond to the base width being at the narrowest setting (deepest bucket seat) (an infant mode), the second configuration can correspond to the base width being at a moderate setting and the third configuration can correspond to the base width being at a widest setting (shallowest bucket seat) (a toddler mode). It can be noted that the ranges provided above are provided by way of example and not limitation. Furthermore, the seat may have other configurations.

[0051] Returning to FIG. 4B, shoulder straps 300a, 300b are configured to form a loop and attach on either side of the lateral centerline of carrier 100. Each shoulder strap 300 may connect to upper torso support portion 300 at one or more locations to pull upper torso support portion 130 toward the wearer. Shoulder straps 300 may be adjustable and, in some cases, can be re-configured to support multiple carrier positions, such as a front carry or back carry position.

[0052] Each shoulder strap 300a, 300b includes an upper strap section 310a, 310b (e.g., a padded section) that is attached at one end 312a, 312b to a lower strap section 320a, 320b. The upper end of each upper strap section 310a, 310b is attached to main body 110 proximate to top edge 1 16 (e.g., at the upper corners of main body 1 10) at a shoulder strap attachment point 314a, 314b The lower strap section 320a, 320b of each shoulder strap 300a, 300b is coupled to the main body 1 10 below the upper strap section 310a, 310b of the associated shoulder strap 300a, 300b at an attachment point 321 a, 321 b. Adjusting buckles 330a, 330b operatively couple each lower strap section 320a, 320b to upper strap section 310a, 310b such that the length of the shoulder straps 300a, 300b can be altered.

[0053] Carrier 100 further includes height adjusters to adjust the height of carrier 100. With reference to FIG. 1 and FIG. 4B, according to one embodiment, each shoulder strap 300 comprises a height adjuster strap 350 (shown individually as 350a and 350b) that is coupled at one end to main body 110 at attachment points 352a, 352b below the attachment points 314a, 314b of the corresponding shoulder strap 300a, 300b. The height adjuster strap 350a, 350b may be coupled to main body 110 on the obverse side from the upper ends of the respective shoulder strap 300a, 300b. For example, in the embodiment illustrated, the upper ends of shoulder straps 300a, 300b may be coupled to the interior side of main body 1 10 at attachment points 314a, 314b while the lower ends of height adjuster straps 350a, 350b are coupled to the exterior side of main body 110 at attachment points 352a, 352b. Further, attachment points 352a, 352b are vertically displaced from attachment points 314a, 314b. For some distance above the point at which each height adjuster strap 350a, 350b couples to main body 1 10, the height adjuster strap 350a, 350b is free from main body 110 such that main body 110 may be folded away from the height adjuster strap 350a, 350b. [0054] Each height adjuster strap 350a, 350b travels generally upward and is coupled at a second end to the corresponding upper strap section 310a, 310b away from top edge 116 (e.g., at attachment points 353a, 353b). Thus, the shoulder straps 310a, 310b of the carrier 100 have split upper ends with one branch of a split upper end coupled to the main body of the carrier at an attachment point 314a, 314b and the second branch of the split upper end (e.g., formed by a height adjuster strap 350a, 350b) coupled to the main body of the carrier at an attachment point 352a, 352b.

[0055] Each height adjuster strap 350a, 350b includes a buckle 360a, 360b that operatively couples the height adjuster strap 350a, 350b to the corresponding upper strap section 310a, 310b such that the length of height adjuster straps 350a, 350b can be altered. As can be seen in FIG. 3, when height adjuster straps 350a, 350b are shortened, the upper part of main body 110 folds down, shortening the carrier compared to the configuration of FIG. 2.

[0056] In accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure, carrier 100 can be a soft

structured carrier that incorporates padding, stitching and fabrics to provide structure. Main body 1 10, including upper torso support portion 130, bucket seat portion 125, thigh supports 140, waist belt 200 and shoulder straps 300 can be flexible and can be formed primarily of natural or synthetic fibers without a rigid frame. As would be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art, however, some components, such as buckles, fasteners, etc. of a soft structured carrier may be formed of hard plastics, metals and the like.

[0057] Carrier 100 may include one or more panels formed from a single piece of material or multiple pieces of material, multiple layers of materials, or multiple materials. For example, in some embodiments, upper torso support portion 130 may be formed with an inner layer selected for comfort against a child's skin and an outer layer selected for breathability, fashion, stain resistance, etc. Upper torso support portion 130 may have straight edges, tapered edges for an area of increased width or decreased width, or otherwise configured for comfort or security of a child or a user. Similarly, bucket seat portion 125 may include one or more panels formed from a single piece of material, or may be formed from multiple pieces of material, multiple layers of materials, or multiple materials. The junction between upper torso support portion 130 and bucket seat portion 125 may be a substantially seamless transition. In one embodiment, the center of upper torso support portion 130 and center of bucket seat portion 125 may be formed from a unitary center panel (of one or more layers) attached to side panels that form the laterally outer portions of upper torso support portion 130 and bucket seat portion 125. Inner layers may be selected for comfort against a child's skin and outer layers selected for breathability, fashion, stain resistance, etc. In some embodiments, the center portion may be selected for comfort and lateral portions selected for breathability, security, etc.

[0058] As used herein, the terms "comprises," "comprising," "includes," "including," "has,"

"having" or any other variation thereof, are intended to cover a non-exclusive

inclusion. For example, a process, article, or apparatus that comprises a list of elements is not necessarily limited to only those elements but may include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, article, or apparatus. Further, unless expressly stated to the contrary, "or" refers to an inclusive or and not to an exclusive or. For example, a condition A or B is satisfied by any one of the following: A is true (or present) and B is false (or not present), A is false (or not present) and B is true (or present), and both A and B are true (or present). As used herein, a term preceded by "a" or "an" (and "the" when antecedent basis is "a" or "an") includes both singular and plural of such term, unless clearly indicated otherwise (i.e., that the reference "a" or "an" clearly indicates only the singular or only the plural). Also, as used in the description herein and throughout the meaning of "in" includes "in" and "on" unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

[0059] Additionally, any examples or illustrations given herein are not to be regarded in any way as restrictions on, limits to, or express definitions of, any term or terms with which they are utilized. Instead, these examples or illustrations are to be regarded as being described with respect to one particular embodiment and as illustrative only. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that any term or terms with which these examples or illustrations are utilized will encompass other embodiments which may or may not be given therewith or elsewhere in the specification and all such embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of that term or terms. Language designating such nonlimiting examples and illustrations include, but is not limited to: "for example," "for instance," "e.g.," "in one embodiment."

[0060] Reference throughout this specification to "one embodiment", "an embodiment", or "a specific embodiment" or similar terminology means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment and may not necessarily be present in all embodiments. Thus, respective appearances of the phrases "in one embodiment", "in an embodiment", or "in a specific embodiment" or similar terminology in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics of any particular embodiment may be combined in any suitable manner with one or more other embodiments. It is to be understood that other variations and modifications of the embodiments described and illustrated herein are possible in light of the teachings herein and are to be considered as part of the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0061] In the description herein, numerous specific details are provided, such as examples of components and/or methods, to provide a thorough understanding of embodiments of the invention. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize, however, that an embodiment may be able to be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other apparatus, systems, assemblies, methods, components, materials, parts, and/or the like. In other instances, well-known structures, components, systems, materials, or operations are not specifically shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of embodiments of the invention. While the invention may be illustrated by using a particular embodiment, this is not and does not limit the invention to any particular embodiment and a person of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that additional embodiments are readily understandable and are a part of this invention.

[0062] It will also be appreciated that one or more of the elements depicted in the

drawings/figures can also be implemented in a more separated or integrated manner, or even removed or rendered as inoperable in certain cases, as is useful in accordance with a particular application. Additionally, any signal arrows in the drawings/figures should be considered only as exemplary, and not limiting, unless otherwise specifically noted.

[0063] The representative embodiments, which have been described in detail herein, have been presented by way of example and not by way of limitation. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made in the form and details of the described embodiments resulting in equivalent embodiments that remain within the scope of the invention.