Caring for Baby’s Umbilical Cord

An Umbilical Cord is the connecting of tissue between fetus and mother’s placenta. The cord acts as the life support for the fetus during prenatal development. Umbilical cord works towards carrying oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to the fetus. It also brings back de-oxygenated, impure blood back to the placenta.

The Cord Cutting Ritual

There is no need for umbilical cord after the baby is born. Hence, it is cut soon after the birth. Thereafter, the cord is clamped to help seal off the open blood vessels. It is cut really close to baby’s tummy. The clamp used is made of plastic. Sometimes, doctors may even use a cord tape or a metal clamp. The stump takes about 2-3 weeks to dry off completely and fall on its own.

How to Care Umbilical Cord Stump in a Newborn?

Until the cord stump falls off completely, it is important to keep it clean and dry. Doctors usually provide sterilized cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol to clean the umbilical cord stump. You can follow the routine for about once or twice a day. The cleaning should be done gently.

Bathing Routine

Do not start off with the bathing routine unless the doctor advises you. Do not wet the stump. You may just sponge the baby using a wash-cloth until the wound heals.


Make sure baby’s clothing is loose. The diaper must be worn below the umbilical cord stump. Understand that the stump should get lots of air to heal fast. Adorn the baby with only 100% cotton.

Avoid Self Handing

The stump may look dry. However, you should not try and pull it off. You must wait for it to fall naturally. Don’t worry, the task will not take long.

Call the Doctor

If you see the umbilical cord stump is red and swollen. Other signs of concern include the stump oozing too much liquid or pus (umbilical granuloma), and fever.

Precautions with Baby’s Umbilical Cord

  • Don’t immerse an infant in a tub for bathing until the cord has separated.
  • Immersing in water promotes infection, prevents drying and delays separation.
  • Give your baby a sponge bath until the cord stump dries or heals completely.
  • Avoid the fully oil massaging.
  • Diapers should not come in contact with the cord.
  • Give cord some space for breathing.
  • Do not skip the prescribed ointment until it has been dried and healed.
  • Keep a close watch for pus formation, or swelling, or redness, or foul smell. Inform te doctor immediately.
  • Take care of the belly button area even after the chord stump falls off.
  • Clean the area gently and keep it dry.


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