Umbilical Cord Care: Baby Basics

Suzanne Murray
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umbilical cord care

Photo by Immamabeef

Having my bellybutton touched wigs me out, so I was not okay with the thought of having someone attached to me via an umbilical cord. And I certainly wasn't looking forward to having to take care of my baby's cord stump after she was born. But guess what? It's no big deal— and it falls off before you know it. Here's the best way to care for your newborn's umbilical cord stump according to the Mayo Clinic.

Do Keep it clean: In the past, parents were told to swab the stump with rubbing alcohol, but now doctors say the stump may heal faster if left alone. If it gets dirty or sticky, wash it with soap and water and dry it well.

Do Keep it dry: Expose the stump to air to help dry out the base. Keep the front of your baby's diaper folded down below the stump. Change wet or soiled diapers quickly to prevent irritation. In warm weather, dress your baby in a diaper and T-shirt to improve air circulation.

Don't Bathe Your Baby: Stick with sponge baths until the stump falls off. After that you can bathe your newborn in a tub or sink.

Don't pull the stump off. Let it fall off on its own, even if it's hanging on by a thread. It will take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.

Call your doctor if you see signs of infection—your baby has a fever or the umbilical area:

1. Looks red and swollen

2. Continues to bleed (crust and dried blood is normal)

3. Oozes yellowish pus

4. Smells foul

Has your baby's umbilical cord stump come off yet?

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