Baby Care

How to Care for Your Newborn’s Umbilical Cord

Newborn Umbilical Cord Stump Care

A new mom has a lot to figure out, but most moms never think about their baby’s umbilical cord. The umbilical cord looks like a long-tube and functions as a transportation channel between mother and child in the period of pregnancy. Through the umbilical cord, food and oxygen are carried from mother to child and waste products are carried from baby to mother for excretion.

After birth, the umbilical cord is no longer necessary so the doctors clamp it and then cut it. Since there are no nerves in the cord, it is quite a painless procedure. When the cord is cut, there will appear a small stump on your baby’s belly. The stump could be half-inch or an inch long.

Related: Mom Instagram stickers to celebrate Mom life

How do you care for the stump?

It is necessary that you take great care of your baby’s stump. Regardless of the length of the stump, it is natural for all babies to have one. Here are ways in which you can take care of your newborn’s umbilical cord:

  • Wash your hands before handling the cord stump.
  • Use only water to keep your baby’s belly button area clean, except if the area gets wee or poo on it. If this happens, wash off the wee or poo using clean water and a pH-neutral cleanser. You should look for ‘pH-neutral’ on product labels or ask your pharmacist to recommend a product.
  • You should make sure the stump dries properly after bathing.
  • Always be gentle. It may be tempting to pull it off especially after a while when it looks like it has healed and would come off anytime. However, resist the urge and let it fall off by itself. Never pull on it. In the beginning, the stump will look shiny and yellow but is soon dries out and becomes brown, gray, purplish or blue. Soon enough it will shrivel and turn black before it falls off on its own.
  • The cord should be kept clean and dry at all times. Instead of giving your baby a tub or sink bath, go for sponge baths.
  • Don’t clean the base of the cord with alcohol to help it dry out as many moms did in the past, since using alcohol to dry it out may irritate the skin and sometimes delays healing. Instead, you can clean the cord itself to help it dry or leave it alone until it falls off by itself.
  • Sometimes your baby can have messy bowel movements and the stool can come into contact with the cord. In such instances, use some soap and water to gently clean the cord, as mentioned above.
  • When it is time for diapers, fold them so that they lie below the cord and don’t cover it. It will shield the cord from your baby’s pee. It is also important to leave the cord to air out and not to remain covered.

Generally, the cord comes off between 10 and 14 days after birth. In some children, it can take up to 21 days.

How many times a day should you clean your baby’s umbilical cord?

Experts once advised parents to clean the cord with rubbing alcohol at every diaper change, but now the recommendation is to clean it several times a day and keep it dry.

How long does it take for the belly button to heal after the cord falls off?

The skin underneath the stump may be a little red when the dried cord stump first falls off, but it should soon heal, usually within two weeks. Talk to your doctor if it doesn’t heal in this timeframe.

How to tell if your baby’s umbilical cord is infected

If you see any of these signs on your baby’s cord, then it might be infected:

  • Blood at the end of the cord
  • Whitish or yellowish discharge
  • Swelling or redness
  • Signs of pain around the cord like crying when it is touched

When the cord finally falls off, expect some blood on the diaper. In addition, a yellow and sticky fluid may ooze out once the cord is gone. Don’t worry about it since it’s normal. In any case where you feel uncomfortable and anxious about your baby’s umbilical cord, just see a doctor. There is no shame in that even if your concerns would be regarded as normal occurrences.

Related: 7 Things I Regret Not Buying for My Baby

How do you bathe a baby after the umbilical cord falls off?

Once the cord stump has fallen off on its own, you can begin bathing your baby by gently submerging their body in a shallow bath. You don’t have to clean the belly button any more or less than the rest of your baby’s body. If you want to clean it, you can use the corner of a washcloth, but you don’t need to use soap or to scrub too hard. If the belly button still looks like an open wound after the cord falls off, avoid rubbing it until it heals completely.

What to do with the umbilical cord after it falls off?

Every mom is different. Just as some women save their positive pregnancy tests, some moms can’t bear the idea of throwing their baby’s umbilical cord stump in the trash – so they save it or do creative things with it. Here are 5 things you can do with your baby’s umbilical cord stump after it falls off.

  • Box it – the easiest thing to do with it is to box it and save it. Just make sure it’s completely dry.
  • Save it inside of a baby’s memory book – once it’s completely dried out, tape it inside of a baby’s scrapbook with the rest of the memories. Here is a cute scrapbook available on Amazon that also includes an ink pad to make a hand or footprint.
  • Bury it – some cultures have always buried their umbilical cords, but recently, modern moms have followed suit.
  • Turn it into a piece of jewelry – yeah you read it right, some parents are making jewelry out of their babies’ umbilical cord stumps. Many companies now offer moms the option of turning their baby’s stump into a small charm that can be worn on a necklace or a bracelet.
  • Burn it – cord stump burning is a beautiful and gentle way that is common in many cultures.

Related: How Long Before Taking Newborn Out In Public