How to Take Care of Baby’s Umbilical Cord

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Newborn Umbilical Cord Care

What is The Umbilical Cord and What Does it Do

The umbilical cord is a conduit that connects the fetus to the placenta. It provides nutrients and oxygen from you to your baby during pregnancy.  After birth, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. This leaves behind a short stump.

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Taking Care of The Umbilical Stump

Your baby’s umbilical cord stump will eventually dry out and fall off. This takes approximately 5 to 15 days but can sometimes take as long as 21 days. Until that happens you must keep the umbilical cord stump clean.

Step by Step Instructions for Cleaning The Umbilical Cord Stump

1. Keep The Stump Dry

Pediatricians used to recommend cleaning the stump with alcohol, most now recommend that you leave the stump alone.  Allow the stump to air dry.  Use newborn diapers which have a special cut out or fold the top of the diaper down so air can circulate helping the stump to heal faster.

2. Sponge Baths

Don’t submerge baby in water until after the stump has fallen off.  If baby has a messy bowel movement and it get on the stump, clean it gently with soap and water.  There is no harm if the stump gets wet however, sponge baths make it easier for the stump to stay dry, healing faster.

3. Stump Falls Off

It can be tempting to want to pull off the stump, particularly if its hanging by a thread. However, let the stump fall off on its own. It’s safer for baby.

Signs of an Infection or Other Problems

  •  Foul smelling
  •  Puss
  •  Bleeding
  •  Redness
  •  Painful

What is an Umbilical Granuloma?

It is a small nodule of pinkish-red tissue with yellow drainage. It is treated by cauterization. Treatment is painless because there are no nerve endings in this area

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When The Stump Falls Off

Its normal if you see a few drops of blood but if there is a lot of blood call your Pediatrician right away. If you notice any of these symptoms, signs of a fever or infection or if the stump has not fallen off within three weeks contact your Pediatrician.


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