How to Care for the Umbilical Cord

Caring for your baby’s umbilical cord and belly button area is key within the first few weeks of life. Here are some helpful tips for proper umbilical cord care:

  • Keep the umbilical cord clean and dry.
  • Give your baby sponge baths.
  • Make sure the diaper is folded below the cord to avoid getting urine on it.

If your newborn’s cord doesn’t dry up and fall off within the first two months, there is a foul-smelling yellowish discharge, extremely red skin, or if your baby cries when you touch the cord, there may be an issue. While it is rare for your child to require medical treatment for the umbilical cord, call your pediatrician if you see these issues.

Umbilical granuloma and umbilical hernias can occur, but they are not worrisome conditions. If a granuloma forms, it will drain a light-yellow fluid and eventually go away within a week. If not, your pediatrician will cauterize it. If an umbilical hernia forms, the area will push outward when your baby cries. This typically heals itself by early school age. On the rare occasion it doesn’t, surgery will be done to close the hole in the abdominal wall.

In general, use your best judgment when interacting with your child’s umbilical cord area. And remember, keeping it dry is key to healing.