Here you’ll find instructions on caring for your baby’s umbilical stump — how to help it heal, dry up and fall off safely. You’ll also learn to identify the signs of infection, and find out when to call your healthcare provider.

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Helpful tips to care for the umbilical cord
Follow these helpful guidelines to help protect your baby’s cord stump.

  • Whenever you change your baby’s diaper, pay special attention to the area at the base of the cord, nearest to the belly button. Wipe it gently but thoroughly to clean out any moist debris that may have collected. A cotton-tipped applicator works well for this. Don’t worry about hurting your baby – there are no nerve endings in the cord stump.
    • While your newborn still has her umbilical cord, it’s best to give her quick sponge baths rather than submerging the cord stump. Once the cord has fallen off, feel free to bathe her in a baby tub or sink.
      • Try to prevent diapers from rubbing against the stump. You can fold the diaper down under the cord stump, or you can use disposable diapers with a cut-out notch at the top.
        • Babies are born with “innies” or “outies.” Some parents try to cover the umbilical area with coins, bandages or wraps to change what your baby was born with – this won’t work and may irritate the area more.
    • Identifying warning signs

      • If the cord oozes yellow pus, develops a bad odor, or the area around the base is red and swollen, it may be infected. It would be advised to notify your baby’s healthcare provide.
        Occasionally, you may see small amounts of bleeding from the navel. This is normal as the blood vessels separate. If you notice bleeding, first try applying a little pressure. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after five to seven minutes of constant pressure, call your healthcare provider.
      • Redness can also be caused by the dry cord stump irritating the nearby skin. To determine what is causing the irritation, gently push the stump away from the red area and mark the margin of redness with a pen. Wait 30 to 60 minutes and check it again.