Caring For Baby’s Umbilical Cord

Umbilical Cord, newborn

Caring For Baby’s Umbilical Cord

The arrival of a newborn is a momentous occasion filled with joy and excitement. As new parents, you are entrusted with the care and well-being of your precious little one. One aspect of newborn care that often raises questions is the care of the baby’s umbilical cord stump. In this guide, Continuum Pediatrics offers insights and tips on how to properly care for your baby’s umbilical cord to ensure a smooth healing process.

Understanding the Umbilical Cord Stump

At birth, your baby’s umbilical cord is clamped and cut, leaving behind a small stump attached to the belly button. This stump is made up of special tissue that will naturally dry up, shrivel, and eventually fall off. This process typically takes one to three weeks, but it can vary from baby to baby.

Caring for the Umbilical Cord Stump: Do’s and Don’ts


  1. Keep It Clean and Dry: Gently clean the area around the stump with a cotton ball or swab dipped in warm water during diaper changes. Make sure to pat it dry with a clean, soft cloth or gauze afterward.
  2. Fold Diapers Down: To prevent irritation, fold down the top of your baby’s diaper so that it doesn’t cover the stump. You can also use diapers with a special cutout for the stump.
  3. Give It Some Air: Whenever possible, let your baby’s stump get some fresh air by exposing it to the open air for short periods. This helps keep the area dry.
  4. Watch for Warning Signs: Keep an eye out for any signs of infection or other issues, such as redness, swelling, foul odor, or discharge. If you notice any of these, contact your pediatrician promptly.


  1. No Forceful Removal: Do not attempt to pull off the stump, even if it appears loose. It will detach naturally when it’s ready.
  2. Avoid Immersion in Water: While it’s okay to give your baby a sponge bath, avoid submerging them in water (like in a tub) until the stump has fallen off and the area has healed.
  3. Avoid Applying Products: Do not use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other topical ointments or creams on the stump unless specifically recommended by your pediatrician.

Handling the Stump Falling Off

When the stump is ready to fall off, it will do so on its own. You might find it in your baby’s diaper, crib, or during a diaper change. This is a normal part of the healing process, and you shouldn’t force it to come off.

Once the stump has fallen off, you may notice a small raw area or a bit of oozing. This is also normal, and it should heal on its own. Continue to keep the area clean and dry, and avoid using adhesive bandages or covering it with anything.

Seeking Medical Advice

While caring for your baby’s umbilical cord stump is usually straightforward, it’s essential to reach out to your pediatrician if you have any concerns. In particular, if you notice signs of infection, persistent bleeding, or any other unusual changes, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice.

Caring for your newborn’s umbilical cord stump is a part of the exciting journey of parenthood. By following these dos and don’ts, you can help ensure that the healing process is smooth and uneventful. Remember that every baby is unique, and if you have any questions or concerns, your pediatrician at Continuum Pediatrics is here to provide guidance and support.