Is there any evidence on the ring pillows that a lot of Korean families use? (November 2009)
Ring pillows or donut pillows have a space in the middle and pressure on the baby's head is spread around the perimeter of the ring and not the back of the head. They are used in some Asian cultures where babies are traditionally slept on the back and the incidence of SIDS is very low. Ring pillows may in fact help prevent babies from changing position, however this is not a reason to promote them to everyone in New Zealand!
Soft is the problem for babies with pillows in New Zealand, especially adult-sized pillows and tri-pillows. These are sometimes used for propping babies, or as barriers to protect a baby from rolling off a bed, but can be dangerous even for an awake baby if the baby is not supervised, and especially for a sleeping baby. Babies slip when propped, especially if also swaddled. The combination of swaddling, propping and pillows is a dangerous one for a baby. The danger of pillows in the sleeping environment increases when babies begin to attempt to turn. Anything that increases the chance of a baby changing position and getting onto the tummy is a concern when there are pillows or soft bedding in the sleeping environment. The risk is from a baby becoming face down into, or pressed against, a pillow, or getting underneath one.
I have checked with a Hong Kong researcher colleague, to see if he is aware of any studies specific to this traditional 'donut' type pillow - his reply: "To my knowledge there is no research on these pillows" Dr Tony Nelson, Paediatrician, Hong Kong (22/11/2009)