A newborn's umbilical cord stump typically falls off within about two weeks after birth. In the meantime, treat your baby's umbilical cord stump gently.

Have you ever wondered how your baby gets his or her nutrition as a fetus? Well, they get it by the help of the placenta which is connected to you through the umbilical cord. And when delivering a baby, doctors cut a big part of that cord. As for the remaining part, it stays attached to your newborn’s belly button. After around 2 weeks, this part dries and falls off on its own. Therefore, it is important to look after your baby’s belly button. And you will learn how to do that here.


Why your baby has an umbilical cord stump

During pregnancy, the umbilical cord supplies nutrients and oxygen to your developing baby. After birth, the umbilical cord is no longer needed — so it's clamped and snipped. This leaves behind a short stump.


How to Care for Your Baby’s Belly Button

1| Keep your baby’s belly button dry and clean.

First of all, it is very important that your baby’s belly button stays clean and sanitized. That is to keep it from catching any dirt or infections. So, keep it clean and dry at all times, especially when you are changing your baby’s diaper. In fact, try to keep the diaper’s rim away from your baby’s belly button. This is very essential to ensure nothing leaks to your newborn’s belly button.


2| Avoid bathing your newborn baby.

As new mums, we must ensure our newborn babies are always clean. And the same thing goes for the navel or belly buttons. However, pouring water on their little belly buttons or bathing is not the best idea. Especially in those first few weeks. Instead, it is best to sponge bathe newborn babies. You can do so by getting a soft sponge and dipping it in warm water. Clean your baby gently and softly with it, and repeat as much as you need. This is the best bathing technique for newborn babies during their first weeks.


3| Don’t over dress your baby.

In addition, avoid dressing your baby with many layers. Especially if the umbilical cord did not fall off yet. Extra layers of clothes will put pressure on your newborn’s belly button and irritate him or her. Alternatively, if the weather is cold, keep your baby’s room warm and use warm blankets. As for hot weather, you can use onesies as pajamas too. The most important thing is not to get your baby to sweat. Because that might cause infections that you don’t want your baby to have.


4| Do not apply pressure on the area.

As we mentioned before, extra clothing and layering might cause pressure on the belly button. So would pulling the disposable surgical plastic tweezers that are holding the umbilical cord. Both of the previous can cause bleedings or other serious complications. All you have to do is to wait for the navel to dry and fall off on its own without any interference.


5| Completely avoid using alcohol.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents to completely avoid using alcohol when caring for a newborn’s belly button. They conducted research comparing using alcohol on infant’s belly buttons and not using it. As a result of their research, they found that using alcohol slows down the drying process. While avoiding using alcohol keeps the navel dry thus it falls off in much less time.


We suggest using sanitized baby items and designated baby powder to keep the area clean. Your doctor will most likely recommend which baby powder to use before checking out of the hospital. And finally, make sure to get all the information you need from doctors or medical pamphlets. Because by the end of the day, they are the most reliable resource.


Signs of a problem

During the healing process, it's typical to see a little blood near the stump. Much like a scab, the cord stump might bleed a little when it falls off.

However, contact your baby's health care provider if the umbilical area oozes pus, the surrounding skin becomes red and swollen, or the area develops a pink moist bump. These could be signs of an umbilical cord infection. Prompt treatment is needed to stop the infection from spreading.

Also, talk to your baby's health care provider if the stump still hasn't separated after three weeks. This might be a sign of an underlying problem, such as an infection or immune system disorder.