After the umbilical cord is cut at birth, a stump of tissue remains attached to your baby's belly button (navel). The stump gradually dries and shrivels until it falls off, usually 1 to 2 weeks after birth. It is important that you keep the umbilical cord stump and surrounding skin clean and dry. This basic care helps prevent infection. It may also help the umbilical cord stump to fall off and the navel to heal more quickly.
Gently clean your baby's umbilical cord stump and the surrounding skin at least once a day and as needed during diaper changes or baths.
The stump usually falls off in 1 or 2 weeks, but sometimes it takes longer. Continue to clean around the navel at least once a day until the navel has completely healed.
You can help your baby's umbilical cord stump fall off and heal faster by keeping it dry between cleanings.
Call your baby's doctor if you see any signs of an infection. These signs include:
Also call your baby's doctor if you notice any other problems with the umbilical cord area, such as:
Other Works Consulted
Burgos AE (2011). Postnatal care and observation. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 184–189. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hagan JF, et al., eds. (2008). Health supervision: Newborn visit. In Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 3rd ed., pp. 271–288. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Zupan J, et al. (2004). Topical umbilical cord care at birth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - PediatricsThomas M. Bailey, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Current as ofAugust 10, 2016
Current as of: August 10, 2016
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
& Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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