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After the umbilical cord is cut, a stump of tissue is still attached to your baby’s navel. The stump will gradually dry before it falls off and during that time it is important to practice healthy newborn cord care. This simple guide will give you all the details and precautions you need to confidently care for your new bundle of joy during this time.
Chapter 1. Newborn Cord Care
Section 1. How to Care for a Newborn Umbilical Cord
The most important guideline for umbilical cord care is to leave it alone. This is the best practice to allow proper healing. Picking at it or encouraging it to fall off will only prolong the healing process.
Sponge baths are essential during this time until the stump falls off. Infants don’t really need a lot of bathing in the beginning since they’re so brand new. Just put your baby on a bath seat and use warm water and a washcloth to clean your their skin, avoiding the cord stump.
Air dry, especially after a sponge bath, is important. Exposure to air allows the cord stump to dry, fall off more quickly and prevent an infection. When you’re dressing your little one, keep the front of the diaper rolled down and skip onesies in the meantime.
Section 2. Cleaning Belly Button
It is recommended to allow your baby’s stump to heal naturally. Any bacteria killing alcohols or ointments are not good for their sensitive skin. It can actually be irritating and doesn’t help the healing process or kill bacteria.
If you’re concerned about keeping the site clean from infection, you can try breast milk topically on the cord stump. Human milk is full of live probiotics, IgA antibodies, and antibacterial properties. It also accelerates the process of umbilical cord separation.
This method has been used in societies of Kenya and areas of Turkey. They have been proven very effective as a free and non-evasive way for cord care and great healing. However, it’s best to consult your child’s pediatrician for recommendations before trying any alternative method.
Section 3. Umbilical Cord Healing
1) When Does the Umbilical Cord Fall Off?
The baby’s umbilical cord may fall off within 3 days to 2 weeks after birth. It greatly depends on the care of the umbilical cord stump.
2) What to do When Umbilical Cord Falls Off?
Newborn belly button care after the cord falls off is pretty simple. Once the cord falls off you can regularly bathe your baby. The stump may look red and raw or dried blood, but it should look normal from a few days to 2 weeks once the new skin grows.
Signs of infection may include:
- Base appears to be red or swollen
- Continues to bleed
- Oozes yellowish or white pus
- Produces a foul-smelling discharge
- Seems painful to your baby
Also, if the cord is actively bleeding after the cord falls off it could be due to it being pulled off prematurely. For all these symptoms, please see the pediatrician immediately.
We hope this simple newborn care guide will help you during your first weeks home with your new baby. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Umbilical Cord Health