When will baby's belly button stump fall off? Newborn Care

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baby with umbilical stump
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When a baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped and snipped, leaving behind a small "stump." Here's what experts and moms have to say about when the stump typically falls off -- along with tips on how to care for it in the meantime.

Within 2 Weeks

"Usually it falls off within two weeks. The important thing is to keep the umbilical cord stump dry. Don't immerse your baby in water until the stump falls off. Don't use alcohol to clean it, as it is not needed. Sponge baths are fine."  -- Hannah Chow, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and codirector of the Loyola Center for Health at North Riverside, Illinois

Be Aware of What's Normal & What's Not

"The belly button can start to smell, especially as it loosens. And don't freak out if it bleeds a little bit when it comes off. They sometimes do if they are tugged on due to getting stuck on clothes. Watch for signs of infection around the umbilical site, like redness on the skin surrounding the stump."

Keep the Area Dry

"It fell off fairly quickly for my boys but my girls took a little longer. Just keep the area dry."

Timing Can Vary

"Our youngest's fell off a few hours after she was born. The rest of our kids' fell off within the first few days."

Rubbing Alcohol Is No Longer Recommended

"They were a week or so old when they fell off. I would listen to the doctor's advice! It has changed since my kids were little."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.