Caring For Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord

Postpartum Resources

It will take some time for your baby’s umbilical cord stump to fall off. This process generally takes 1-2 weeks and requires a bit of attention and care to prevent infection. While many doctors used to recommend cleaning the stump with rubbing alcohol, it is now recommended to just leave it to heal on its own. However, a few practices will help the healing to progress more quickly.

Keep the area dry: Allowing the cord to be exposed to air as much as possibly will help the natural healing process. Loose-fitted, cotton clothing is best because it is breathable. Newborn diapers are designed to stay clear of the area, but if your baby is already wearing larger diapers, folding the waist down will help avoid irritating contact with the cord.

Sponge baths: Your baby should not be submerged in water until his cord has fully healed. If your baby requires a bath, make sure to fan the area completely dry.

Don’t pick: Your baby’s cord stump may only be attached by a small amount of tissue, or may have scabs and/or dry skin. Resist the urge to pick at the skin, or pull the cord off. This can cause pain to your baby, or interfere with the healing process. It’s important to allow the cord to fall off on its own.

Infection to the cord can result in a condition called omphalitis, which can be life-threatening and needs to be treated immediately.

Signs of infection may include:

  • A red or swollen base
  • Bleeding
  • Yellowish or white pus
  • A foul smelling discharge
  • Seems painful to your baby

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