The first one to three weeks of your baby's life, he'll have an umbilical cord stump that was clamped in a painless procedure following the birth. (It's actually kind of cute.) But there are ways to go about caring for the stump (to put rubbing alcohol on it or not?). Don't worry, it's not rocket science, but here are 5 tips for caring for your baby's umbilical cord stump.
(And, no, your baby won't feel any discomfort during this newborn rite of passage -- the umbilical cord doesn't contain nerve endings!)
1. Air it out. Before the cord stump falls out, try to avoid dressing your baby in tight-fitting onesies or shirts. Letting the cord get air will help speed the drying process. On the same token, avoid having baby's diaper over the cord stump. Fold the diaper and tuck inside toward baby's belly.
2. No baths until the cord stump falls off. Your doctor will probably tell you this, but here's a friendly reminder. It's natural to be excited to give your baby his first bath, but please wait until the cord has fallen off! Umbilical cord stumps should be kept clean and dry. Wash your baby with warm, soapy washcloths the first few weeks of his life. Don't worry, he's not very dirty.
3. Do not pull at baby's cord stump. Even if it looks like it's just hanging on by a teeny-tiny thread, leave it. It will fall out on its own.
4. To swab or not to swab? Some doctors recommend cleaning around the baby's cord stump with an alcohol-dipped cotton ball; others recommend letting it dry naturally. Some research has found that cord stumps that haven't been treated at all tend to heal faster.
5. Know signs of infection. Consult your doctor if your baby displays any of the following signs: fever; the stump bleeds continuously; a foul smell is emitting from stump; the area surrounding the navel has become swollen, red, or warm to the touch; there's pus at the base of the stump.
How did you care for your baby's cord stump?
Image via Jade Brookbank/cultura/Corbis