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umbilical cord is cut at birth, a stump of tissue
remains attached to your baby's belly button (navel). The stump gradually dries
and shrivels until it falls off, usually 1 to 2 weeks after birth. It
is important that you keep the umbilical cord stump and surrounding skin clean
and dry. This basic care helps prevent infection. It may also help the
umbilical cord stump to fall off and the navel to heal more quickly.
Gently clean your baby's umbilical cord
stump and the surrounding skin at least once a day and as needed during diaper
changes or baths.
The stump usually falls off in 1 or 2 weeks, but
sometimes it takes longer. Continue to clean around the navel at least once a
day until the navel has completely healed.
You can help your baby's
umbilical cord stump fall off and heal faster by keeping it dry between
Call your baby's doctor if
you see any signs of an infection. These signs include:
Also call your baby's doctor if you notice any other
problems with the umbilical cord area, such as:
Other Works Consulted
Burgos AE (2011). Postnatal care and observation. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 184–189. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hagan JF, et al., eds. (2008). Health supervision:
Newborn visit. In Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 3rd ed., pp. 271–288.
Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Zupan J, et al. (2004). Topical umbilical cord care at birth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3).
Current as of:
January 27, 2014
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
& John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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