How to Care for the Umbilical Cord

By Julie Vickers
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Typically, a newborn's cord stump dries out and falls off within approximately eight weeks following birth. It's important to keep your newborn's umbilical cord stump clean and dry in the first few weeks following birth to help prevent infection. If your baby's cord stump has not shriveled and fallen away by the time he is 2 months old, you should contact your doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition, such as umbilical granuloma or umbilical hernia.

Step 1

Bathe your newborn with a sponge rather than placing him in a tub of water to help keep the area of the cord clean and dry until it has fully healed. Wrap your newborn in a soft towel and place him on a flat surface. Then wash and dry each area of your newborn's body in turn and avoid dripping water onto the cord stump area.

Step 2

Change your newborn's diaper when it has become wet or soiled. Wash your newborn's diaper area and dry it thoroughly. When placing a clean diaper on your newborn, fold the front and top part of the diaper down below the level of the cord stump to prevent urine from seeping onto the cord.

Step 3

Place sterile gauze over the cord stump area if it starts to bleed. The appearance of a few small drops of blood or mild oozing of blood is normal and can occur for up to two weeks following delivery. Keep the gauze in place for approximately 15 minutes, and then check the cord stump area to see whether the bleeding has reduced. According to Ask Dr. Sears, you should consult your doctor immediately if the cord stump area continues to actively bleed for more than 15 minutes.

About the Author

Mother of three and graduate of the London Metropolitan University, Julie Vickers is an early years teacher and writer who also loves to craft and create! She writes on topics such as education, health and parenting for websites such as School Explained and has contributed learning sessions on child development and behavior for the Education Information and Learning Services website.