Caring for your baby’s umbilical cord stump is simple and easy. Keeping the cord clean and dry is essential, and it should fall off on its own within the first few weeks. Listed below are current recommendations for providing proper care for your baby’s umbilical cord:
Keeping the cord dry:
- Use sponge baths and avoid submersion until the umbilical stump falls off.
- Exposure to open air when able will help the drying process
Keeping the cord clean:
- Avoid putting anything on the umbilical stump (rubbing alcohol was once recommended for cleaning the stump, but this is no longer common practice).
- If the cord becomes sticky or dirty, it is appropriate to clean with water and then air dry or use absorbent cloth.
- Keep your baby’s diaper folded down to avoid covering up the stump.
Let the stump fall off:
- The stump should fall of on its own (do not assist with the process by pulling on it).
- You may notice mild bleeding or drops of blood when the stump falls off – this is normal!
- Typically umbilical stumps will fall off within the first few weeks – be sure to contact your baby’s pediatrician if it remains at 2 months of age.
While rare, it is important to be aware of signs of infection. Be sure to contact your baby’s pediatrician if you notice oozing or discharge from the umbilical site, redness around the base of the cord, or crying when touched around the umbilical cord or surrounding skin.