US 3530979 A
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P 1970 R. K. MEVRRILL, JR., ETAL 3,530,979
NIPPLE ASSEMBLY Filed Feb. 16, 1967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 F/GG INVENTOR. RALPH K. MERRILLJE BY RICHARD W JARMAN A TTORNE Y8 Sept. 29, 1970 R JR" ET'AL 3,530,979
' NIPPLE ASSEMBLY Filed Feb. 16, 1967 I 2 Sheets-Sheet a F/GB INVENTOR. RALPH K. MERRILLMIZ BY RICHARD JARMAN ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,530,979 NIPPLE ASSEMBLY Ralph K. MerriH, Jr., and Richard W. Jarman, Fremont,
Mich., assignors to Gerber Products Company, Fremont, Mich.
Filed Feb. 16, 1967, Ser. No. 616,592 Int. Cl. A61j 11/02, 11/04; B65d 85/546 U.S. Cl. 206-46 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to nursing nipple assemblies and more particularly to a readily sterilizable, reusable nipple assembly particularly adapted for use with commercially prepared jars of baby formula and juices.
In prior art devices of which we have knowledge, it is the usual practice to enclose the nipple with a protective cover primarily for the purpose of retaining fluids within the container to which the nipple is affixed and secondarily for the purpose of maintaining cleanliness and sterility of the nipple.
Other prior art devices are designed for use with frangible internal discs which maintain the infant formula in sterile condition prior to fracture of the disc. Still other devices are primarily designed for single use and thus are not adapted for readily sterilizing and reusing them.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Our invention comprises a nipple assembly having a protective cover which may be closed by a removable closure and within which is enclosed a nipple carried in a cap, the cap and cover provided with means permitting the cap to be torqued to a container without removing the cap from the cover. These means which permit torquing of the cap to a baby food container also permit the cover to be readily removed by upward movement of the cover from the cap. The cap, cover, and closure are further provided with spacing projections in suitable locations which form fluid access passageways whereby the fluid in a sterilizing bath may enter the interior of the assembly for sterilization of the assembly and the fluid may then drain from the assembly upon removal from the sterilizing bath without removal of the closure from the assembly.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a novel nipple assembly comprising a screw cap and nipple, a protective cover, and a closure releasably received within the opening of the protective cover and which may be readily sterilized, stored or carried with the infants other necessaries, and then used with commercially prepared baby formula or juice in the well-known baby food jars or bottles.
It is a further object of the invention to provide a novel nipple assembly which may be used for feeding "Ice simply by removing the closure from the opening of the protective cover and mounting the cap and nipple upon a bottle or jar of baby food by screw-on engagement through torque applied to the protective cover, all without touching the cap or nipple directly.
A still further object of the invention is to permit removal of the protective cover by simple longitudinal movement after the cap and nipple have been assembled onto the feeding bottle or jar.
A feature and advantage of the present invention is that the fluid passageways not only permit the sterilizing bath to freely enter the interior portions of the assembly, but also permit the sterilizing bath water which has entered to be readily removed from the interior without removal of the closure, thus maintaining the sterility of the assembly subsequent to the sterilization.
Still another feature and advantage of the invention is that the nipple and cap are fully enclosed at all times prior to use within a covering which resists the intrusion of deleterious materials but which permits ready installation of the nipple and cap on a container of baby food without the necessity of touching either the nipple or the cap.
Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following specification and referring to the accompanying drawings in which corresponding numerals represent corresponding parts in each of the several views.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a front elevational view showing the invention;
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the invention;
FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of the invention;
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the cap and nipple;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the protective cover;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the closure;
FIG. 7 is an enlarged, fragmentary cross section of the protective cover;
FIG. 8 is an enlarged, fragmentary front elevation of the cap;
FIG. 9 is an enlarged, fragmentary front elevation of the closure;
FIG. 10 is an enlarged, fragmentary cross section of the cap with the nipple assembled thereto; and
FIG. 11 is an elevation showing the cap and nipple assembled to a jar of baby formula.
Referring more particularly to the drawings, the screw cap 20 receives the nipple 21. The protective cover 22 is shaped to removably receive the nipple and cap assembly completely within its interior space. The closure 23 is removably received across the opening of the protective cover. The entire assembly of screw cap 20, nipple 21, protective cover 22 and closure 23 is shown in FIG. 1.
The protective cover 22, as well as the cap 20 and the closure 23, are preferably formed of plastic such as polypropylene, thus making them unbreakable in normal use and suitable for frequent washing, subsequent sterilization, and reuse. The nipple 21 is typically made of a pliable material such as rubber.
As may be clearly seen in FIG. 4, the screw cap 20 is formed with thread-s 24 of a configuration adapted to be screwed onto a suitable container such as the threaded neck portion (not separately shown) of a conventional baby food jar as it shown at 26 in FIG. 11, or on a conventional baby bottle. The screw cap is also formed with depending annular flanges 27 and 28, flange 27 defining a hole in the cap for receiving the nipple, and flange 28 in spaced relation to flange 27 defining an annular recess 29 which receives the cooperating flange 31 of the nipple 21. These may be clearly seen in FIG. in which may also be seen a small diameter longitudinal hole 32 defining a passageway from the bottom surface 33 of the nipple flange 31 to its inner surface 34.
The outer depending surface 36 of the cap 20 is formed with a plurality of spaced apart ribs 37 which define, in conjunction with an annular lip 38, a plurality of generally rectangular shaped recesses 39. These recesses are designed to receive cooperating ribs 41 disposed around the inner circumference of the protective cover 22 when the cap 20 and nipple 21, assembled together, are placed within the protective cover.
The protective cover 22 of generally conical shape and formed with an anular flange 42 defining the outer edge of the cover. The flange 42 serves a dual purpose, that strengthening the cover to preclude excessive bending and cracking, and that of serving as a face area against which the closure 23 seats. The ribs 41 are in spaced relation to each other around the inner circumference of the protective cover, the spacing 43 between the non-adjacent edges 44 of adjoining ribs being slightly less than the spacing 46 inside adjacent projections 37 on the screw cap 20. The spacing 46 defines the edges of the recesses 39 previously described and into which a pair of ribs 41 will fit when the cap 20 is inserted into the cover 22.
In addition to the flange 42 which strengthens the protective cover 22, there are ridges 47 and spacer members 48 which serve also to strengthen the cover structure. The ridges 47 are provided with small catches 49 at their lower edges designed to engage the closure 23 and hold the closure in place within the open end of the protective cover 22 and also to hold the screw cap 20 in place inside the protective cover 22. The spacer members 48 serve a dual purpose also, not only strengthening the cover structure but also spacing the cap 20 slightly away from the inner surface of the protective cover 22 to provide a plurality of passageways when the cap is inserted within the cover as shown in FIG. 1, the function of which will be further described herein.
The closure 23 is generally circular in shape, except for a tab 51 provided at one end for ease in placing the closure into the cover 22 and removing it therefrom. Also useful for ease in installation and removal of the closure is a rib 52 set into a hemispherical projection 53 formed in the center of the upper surface of the closure.
A plurality of small projections or feet 54 is disposed on the lower surface of the closure 23 in order to hold the closure spaced away from any surface upon which it may be resting. On the upper surface of the closure is a plurality of spacer bars 56 so located that they are in contact with the annular lower edge 40 of the screw cap 20 and hold the edge at a fixed spacing from the closure, to provide additional passageways into the inside of the protective cover.
As may be seen clearly in FIG. 9, the cylindrical portion 57 of the closure 23 is formed with an annular bead 58 at its upper edge. The diameter of the bead is such that when the closure is placed into the opening of the protective cover 22, the catchers 49 pass over the bead and serve to hold the closure securely in place with the spacer bars 56 abutting the edge 49* of the screw cap 20 when the cap is in place within the protective cover 22.
In using the nipple assembly, the nipple 21 is placed in position by putting its elongated portion 35 through the opening in the screw cap 20 which receives the nipple. The nipple may then be pulled through the hole until the flange 31 of the nipple is seated within the annular recess 29 between flanges 27 and 28 of the screw cap. When the nipple is thus seated, and the cap screwed onto a suitable jar, the hole 32 in the nipple flange is the only clear passageway between the inside of the jar and the air outside.
As may be noted in FIG. 10, the air passageway into the jar i-s defined by the cooperating nipple flange and cap flanges, and the hole 32. The air circulation therefore is unaffected by the tightness or looseness of the screw cap on the jar.
The screw cap 20 is then placed within the protective cover 22 so that a pair of adjacent ribs 41 fit within the spacing 46 between adjacent projections 37 on the screw cap 20, the annular lower edge 40 of the cap being held by the ridges 47. The closure 23 is then snapped into place within the opening of the cover 22, the annular bead 58 snapping over and being secured by the catches 49 on the cover.
Sterilization of the assembly may be accomplished at home by the usual procedure of placing the assembly in boiling water, as will be described herein, or may be done in an autoclave or similar apparatus in a hospital. The use of an autoclave will permit reuse of the parts rather than discarding single-use units or commercially made presterilized units.
For home sterilization, the entire assembly may be placed in a covered container of water and the container heated until the water boils. As a result of heating of the protective cover 22 and its contents, air is forced from the inside of the assembly, passing through the space between the ribs 41 and the projections 37 and out past the spaces in the closure between the catches 49 and the annular rib 58. When an assembly made of polypropylene is placed in the water, the assembly will float. As the assembly is heated and the air forced out, water will enter the assembly and cause it to sink to the bottom of the container. The feet 54 space the bottom of the closure from the inner bottom surface of the container so that boiling water circulates around the outside of the closure, thus assuring that the entire assembly is uniformly heated. The combination of steam and hot water which flows into the inside of the assembly through the passageways previously described as a result of the displacement of air from the inside and the radiant heating by the surrounding ambient conditions effectively sterilizes the entire assembly. After the completion of the boiling of the assembly, the unit should be allowed to cool within the container which is kept covered to exclude atmospheric contaminants. Additional boiled, extremely hot water will flow intothe assembly as it cools as a result of the creation of a partial vacuum by the displacement of air from inside the assembly by the previously applied heat. This further aids in the sterilization process, and acts as an indicator that the assembly has been sterilized.
After the assembly has cooled, it may be lifted by grasping the upper portion of the protective cover and permitting the water to drain from the unit through the spaces and passageways through which it entered. The assembly may now be transported as a sterile unit, since the closure remains securely in place effectively maintaining' the sterile condition, even though the closure does not completely seal the opening of the protective cover.
When a baby is to be fed using this invention, a jar of commercially prepared baby formula or baby juice is obtained and the screw type cover removed. The closure 23 is then unsnapped from the opening of the protective cover. The screw cap remains in place within the protective cover by the interaction of the lower edge 40 of the screw cap being held by the ridges 47 and catches 49 as previously described. The protective cover with the screw cap held within it may then be placed over the opening of the jar and the cap screwed into place by turning the cover. Interlocking ribs 41 and projections 37 permit the screw cap to be tightly screwed on the jar opening by turning the protective cover. The fingers, therefore, never touch the nipple. The protective cover may then be lifted from the screw cap by longitudinal movement thus leaving the screw cap and nipple assembly positioned on top of the jar of baby formula, as shown in FIG. 11.
As the baby sucks on the nipple, the removal of the liquid within the jar will cause a partial vacuum within of air entering the jar is overcome. The baby, therefore,
feeds easily and comfortably from a completely sterile unit.
These and other modifications of my invention may be practiced, it being understood that the form of my invention as described above is to be taken as a preferred example of the same. Such description has been by way of illustration and example for purposes of clarity of understanding. Various changes and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of my invention.
1. A reusable, sterilzable nipple assembly for carrying, storing and sterilizing a nipple, the assembly comprising: a hollow cover constructed of a deformable plastic material having an open end and defining abutment means intermediate ends of the cover, a cap positioned within said cover and having a generally tubular configuration and first and second ends, the exterior of the cap having a shape permitting its insertion into the cover past the open end thereof in engagement with the abutment means to limit relative axial movement between the cover and the cap, the first end of the cap being formed for substantially fluid tight engagement with an open end of a container, a nipple connected to the second end of the cap, the interconnection between the nipple and the cap being fluid tight, means intermediate the cover and the cap preventing relative rotational movement between them when the cap engages the abutment means, first fiuid spacer means between the cap exterior and the interior of the cover permitting the passage of fluids between an exterior cap surface and an interior cover surface, and a removable closure constructed of a deformable plastic material placed across the open end of the cover and spaced from the first end of the cap to permit the passage of fluid between the closure and into the tubular interior of the cap, the closure and the cover including mutually engageable detent means for releasably retaining the closure to the cover, said detent means defining fluid spacer means between the closure and the interior sunface of the cover to allow passage of fluid therebetween, whereby the cap and the nipple can be manipulated Without being physically contacted and the cap and the nipple can be sterilized by immersing the nipple assembly in a hot medium to enable the medium to enter past the interconnection between the cover and the closure and past a space between the cover and the cap to contact and sterilize the cap and the nipple exterior and interior surfaces.
2. An assembly according to claim 1 wherein the detent means also engages the cap and releasably retains the cap to the cover when the closure is removed from the cover.
3. An assembly according to claim 2 wherein the detent means comprises a substantially annular protrusion on the cap and a substantially annular protrusion on the closure, the annular protrusions being positioned so that they are located interiorly of the opening of the cover when the nipple assembly is assembled, the detent means further including projections on the cover extending inwardly a suflicient distance to engage the annular protrusions whereby the projections retain the cap and the closure to the cover while permitting their removal from the cover by forceably disengaging them from the projections.
4. An assembly according to claim 1 wherein the nipple is constructed of a flexible material and has an elongated portion and a base, the base including an annular, outwardly extending bottom member and an annular skirt integrally constructed with the bottom member and depending therefrom in the direction of the elongated portion to thereby form an annular groove in the base, the base further including a passageway communicating the side of the base facing away from the elongate portion with the groove, and wherein the cap is constructed to engage the annular groove and the skirt to firmly retain the nipple on the cap, whereby an air passage is formed between the exterior of the nipple and the cap past the groove and the passageway to the interior of the nipple and the cover when the cover is secured to the container and a vacuum is formed in the container.
5. A nipple and cap adapted to be secured to a container, the cap having an outer surface defined by a substantially flat top member and an annular flange depending downwardly from the flat member and defining an opening in the cap, the nipple comprising: an elongated portion and a base, the base including an annular bottom member extending outwardly of the base and an annular skirt depending from the bottom member in the direction of the elongated portion to thereby define an annular groove in the base, the groove having a configuration complementary to the configuration of the annular flange, the nipple further including a narrow passageway terminating at the groove and an opposite side of the base the nipple being attached with the cap, by means of a substantially fiuid tight connection through said opening by engaging the annular flange in the annular groove, whereby passage of air from the exterior surface of the cap past the groove and the passageway to-an interior surface of the nipple is permitted when the pressure on the exterior of the cap and the nipple exceeds the pressure on the interior of the cap and the nipple.
6. A portable, reusable and sterilizable nipple assembly for feeding infants from bottle-like containers comprising: a cap formed for screw engagement with the mouth of the container, said cap having a continuous inner periphery defining a central opening therethrough, said opening being defined by a first inwardly extending annular flange, said cap having a second annular flange in spaced relation parallel to said first flange and defining an annular recess between the flanges, a flexible nipple received within said opening, said nipple comprising a flexible tubular body having a base provided with an annular groove, said base having a fluid passage therethrough whereby the groove is placed in communication with the region adjacent to and externally of the base when the body is mounted in said cap, the groove of said nipple receiving said first cap flange, said cap having an annular edge defining a mouth receiving opening, a cover having a closed end and an open end, the cover being placed over the cap with said nipple mounted therein and disposed proximate the closed end, the cover having a plurality of projections disposed annularly over its inner surface and defining a plurality of passageways between said annunlar cap edge and said cover, a plurality of spacer members disposed on the inner surface of the cover, limiting axial movements between the cover and the cap and defining a plurality of passageways between the cap and the cover, the cover further including a plurality of substantially parallel ribs mounted around the inner surface of the cover, the cap having a plurality of substantially parallel ribs mounted adjacent and perpendicular to the annular edge of the cap to interengage the parallel ribs on the cover and prevent substantial relative rotational movements between the cover and the cap, a closure releasably mounted to and overlying the open end of the cover to enclose said cap and said nipple within the cover and the closure, said closure having an inner surface located within the assembly when the closure is mounted over the cover, said inner surface having a plurality of spacer members mounted therein in juxtaposition with the annular edge of the cap to define a plurality of passageways between the closure and the cap, the closure further having a plurality of projections on a supporting surface.
References Cited 9 UNITED STATES PATENTS Boston et a1. 21511 Soto 128-252 Witz 128'252 Towns 21556 XR 3,248,231 4/1966 Wilson et a1. 215 11.3 XR 3,273,703 9/1966 Stribley 206-46 3,373,864 3/1968 Barton et a1. 215-11.3 XR
RICHARD A; GAUDET, Primary Examiner R. L. FRINKS, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.
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