How to Care for Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord

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Don't be afraid to clean your baby's umbilical cord: the quicker the base dries, the sooner the cord will fall off. Here are some other dos and don't's

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The first week your baby is home will be a time of learning and growing (for both you and your little one). Know that as you care for your baby’s umbilical cord, an act that can seem so simple, you’re actually doing so much more.

Your gentle touch as you wash and dry the delicate area encourages your baby’s self-confidence and helps build your bond with him.

Dos and Don't's

  • Don't be afraid to clean your baby's umbilical cord: the quicker the base dries, the sooner the cord will fall off.
  • Be sure that you have washed your hands before handling the cord. If the umbilical cord becomes soiled with urine or faeces, you should clean the area when you change your baby’s diaper.
  • To clean the cord safely, take a cotton swab, cotton square or cotton round and clean around the base of the cord with clean water.
  • Remember to avoid covering the cord with the diaper, because the cord area should be kept dry and clean at all times.
  • If the diaper is too high, fold it down on your baby before securing.
  • You can also buy special newborn diapers that have a space cut-out for the cord.
  • The cord area should heal in about 7 to 10 days.

Warning Signs

Call your baby’s paediatrician if you notice that the umbilical cord stump:

  • is soft
  • has a strong odour
  • is streaked with red around the navel, or is discharging fluid

However, it is normal for a few drops of blood to appear when the stump separates.

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