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Caring for the Umbilical Cord?

How do I take care of the umbilical cord after birth?

Re: How do I take care of the umbilical cord after birth?

The Bump Expert

"Umbilical cord care has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, with a less-is-more attitude adopted by most hospitals," says Paula Prezioso, MD, a doctor at Pediatric Associates of New York City and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the NYU Medical School. "Originally, a triple dye solution was painted onto the cord at birth, which dried it quickly and allowed it to fall off within a week. This was replaced with the equally effective (and less staining) alcohol, which dried the cord in a week or two." 

Now, many hospitals recommend doing nothing but keeping the cord dry. "The one problem is babies can’t take a real bath until the cord is off and healed -- sponge baths are okay as long as the cord is kept dry," Prezioso says. "The problem with this is it may take up to a month for the cord to fall off -- a long time not to bathe baby! That’s why I personally recommend using alcohol on the cord with each diaper change to see a complete healing in less than two weeks."

watch: more on umbilical cord care

Plus, more from The Bump:

What's Cord Blood Banking?

Best Baby Bath Tubs

Bath Supplies for a Newborn

Dr. Paula Prezioso, MD, is in private practice at Pediatric Associates of New York City and is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the NYU Medical School.

re: Q: Umbilical cord care?

i totaly agree that is what i did with my first and thats what i plan to do with my second

Jbugsmama |

re: Q: Umbilical cord care?

Swap it on with a Q-tip to get into the crevices...DD's was hanging by a threat for days...I wish my MIL suggested the Q-Tip earlier!

Tikat |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I did nothing and my DD's fell off in 7 days

|

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

all my doctors told me to do was make sure if your not using the huggies newborn diapers that already have the space cut out for the cord, just fold the front of the diaper down so that its not touching the cord. and every diaper change, take a cotton swab or q tip and dab with rubbing alcohol and just dab the cord. simple as that. and dont give a bath until it falls off!

bjchessor |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

The midwife who taught our birth class suggested using a hairdryer on low to blowdry the cord for about 30 seconds each time you change baby. We did that, and the warmth and sound stopped her crying from being exposed to the cold air when we changed her, and even better, her cord fell off on day 5! Just be sure to move the cord around to get the warm air all around the cord and in the crevices.

JarrodsBabydoll |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I actually did nothing and the Cord fell off at about day 15d

LadyNikon |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

We did nothing, and her cord started to ooze and bleed :( . We had an extra appointment at the pediatrician when she was about 14 days old, and they cauderized it for us. The biggest piece fell off the next day, and then pieces of it kept drying and falling off since. She lost the last little piece today (3 weeks old). What a pain in the butt!

Musicalniss |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I agree with the alcohol. although my sons unbilical cord clip fell at the hospital the 2nd day of birth. Now at home he only has the purple cord and its been 12 days, still on there. Should i worry?

unreal1186 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

With my first daughter they told me to use the alcohol, her's fell off in 5 days, with my second daughter it was a different hospital and 2 years later, they told me not to use alcohol, her's didn't fall off until 9 days, I wish I had used they alcohol, I reccomend it.

rayray2813 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I was told not to use anything, including alcohol wipes, on the umbilical cord. This was different when my mother had me, she was told to use alcohol wipes to clean the area. I did nothing, not even washing with a damp cloth, and it feel off just days after we came home from the hospital. I looked excellent and at her first visit to the pediatrician we got the ok to start baths!

Jen200 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

With my first, they told me to use a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to wash it every time I changed her diaper. Same with my second. However, I just had my third and they didn't tell me to do anything. I slacked a little on the cleaning and when it started to fall off it was disgusting. Not visually, I can handle that, but very stinky and it had what looked like pus underneath. So I made my husband clean it with each diaper change and that cleared everything up. Because of this I would recommend using alcohol if you have it on hand. It does help it fall off faster as well. My 1st's was off by 5 days and this time around with my third it fell off on day 9. (Not a big difference, but it was still longer!)

JennaG19 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

With my first two I used alcohol and this time (7 yrs later) things did seem to change and the nurses said not to use anything. They said it doesn't "speed" up the drying time at all.

HansenMama2010 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

My first born, Brooke, her cord fell off into her diaper after two weeks, I thought it was her first solid poo! I took pictures, called EVERYONE, then I noticed that her cord was gone, sat there in awe, called EVERYONE back, cried at my stupidity, and hugged Brooke

mandypansy25 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I wiped it with alcoholic daily (at least when I remembered) or more if my little guy managed to get urine on it. It came off when he was 16 days old!

LittleBGCG |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

You're supposed to put rubbing alcohol on a q-tip a swab the stub 3 x's a day until it falls off. It takes a week or 2. It's the safest way and the way most doctors recommend. But no baths until that happens. You can wipe them down and everything, but no submersion or water on the umbilical cord.

jvslaugh |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I did absolutely nothing but keep it dry as recommended by my doctor, and it fell off in 1 week.

Lovebug90 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

the hospital told us to clean it with warm water with a qtip or washcloth a big chuck feel out yesterday (13 days) and we have given her 3 baths so far with no problem

LolaD |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

With my first son I was told to swab his umbilical cord w/rubbing alcohol to help dry it out. His cord fell off at about two weeks. With my second son, I was just told to keep the area dry. His cord fell off at about two weeks also, but before then, it had become oozy and had a foul odor. I began to swab his umbilical cord with the rubbing alcohol and the odor and oozing cleared up in a couple of days. I would definitely recommend swabbing with alcohol and a Q-Tip. At least if it doesn't speed up the healing time, it will help prevent that yucky oozing and odor!

DaveNSky1 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I was told not to put anything on my son's cord. At 3 weeks, it was bleeding a little. I was told to put alcohol on it at every diaper change. At 6 weeks, he had to get seen because it was still there and they put silver nitrate on it. It fell off in days but another scab developed. At 8 weeks, it had a granuloma underneath the scab and had to have more silver nitrate swabbed on. He will be 9 weeks on Tuesday and it's still not all out.

wiphey |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I'm frustrated because this, on top of a bunch of other things is completely different than what we were told at the hospital! I've heard so many different suggestions!!! I was told to leave it alone and the nurse bathed the baby in the hospital and it got wet. No one told me not to bathe her... she's 11 days old now and it's still there and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do!!! I wish babies came with one guidebook of instructions instead of the advise and suggestions of a whole slew of different people! Thanks for the suggestions ladies.. I'm going to call my midwife and find out what she says because the last thing I want to do is make things worse by giving her baths in the tub!

amyaugustine |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

The first few hours after birth it is okay for the nurse to get it wet when bathing, because the cord is still wet. After it starts to dry out after the first day, I usually recommend that parents do nothing but keep it clean and dry, but if they ask for alcohol pads, I go ahead and give it to them. Not like it's going to hurt to use it, but why put chemicals on your baby's skin? If it starts oozing and has a foul odor, that would be high time to call the doctor because that can indicate infection. It usually falls off within 10-14 days, but can be a shorter or longer time. Just let nature run it's course and do what you feel is right for you and your baby.

Ksi20 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I've been putting alcohol on my son's cord every diaper change. he is 3 weeks today, and that thing just doesnt seem to be going anywhere.

r.kersen@yahoo.com |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I just used the alcohol pads they gave me in the hospital every time I changed her and my daughter's fell off within a week.

madismomma27 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I have a question, are you all talking about rubbing alcohol. That might sound dumb, but I just want to make sure

samiree08 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Yes, they are talking about rubbing alcohol. That being said, I didn't do anything to either of my babies' cords except kept them dry and they both fell off at one week.

BlueRidgeMama |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

With my little one her cord fell off in about 10 days. They told me to use the alcohol on it but didn't tell me to pull it out and clean the bottom part that was not drying out. I found that out at her doctors visit when she was about a week old.

Sarahwonders |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

clean it with alcohol

blueberrysparents |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I used alcohaol and it still took almost a month for itto fall off. It was such a pain. I did you the alcohol pads. I didn't get told about the q-tip one until i was 3.5 wks into it. That seemed to work better for me. Thats what I will do next time.

busybeemom |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

My hospital did the triple dye and Amira's umbilical cord fell off after a week and a half.

laurenvolz |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I have had 4 kids, and we have used a Qtip with alcohol on it at every diaper change... you insert it into the ubilical/ belly button and swab around the umbilical cord making sure to clean all the blood and gunk out

Mommy2FourKiddos |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I think it depends on what hospital you're at. My doctor/pediatrician told me, the day before my baby was released from the NICU, to not use alcohol on his stump, because he said that the alcohol can be absorbed through the skin and wouldnt be very good for the baby. He said to keep it dry, make sure I fold his diapers down so theyre not touching it, and to allow fresh air to the stump every day.

janetplanet1314 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Although hospitals will tell you not to, many mothers say that is what they have done and it is fine... Rubibing Alcohol.... First I listened to the doctors and did not touch it whatsoever and then a few days after my baby's umbilical cord started to smell VERY BAD. So i decided to take a few friend's advice and just dabbed a Q-Tip in some rubbing alcohol and gently wiped around the base of the cord.. and within a few days the cord fell and the smell was completely gone... hope this helps!!! :)

melina08 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

My midwife recommended blow drying the umbilical cord with each diaper change. I added alcohol and cupped my hand around the cord so that I could make sure the heat was just right. My sons umbilical cord came off after two days and he has the most beautiful belly button now at 21 months. He actually like the warmth of the blow dryer.

janetcarwile |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Is looking and cleaning the umbilical cord scary? It quite honestly looks very frightening to me and I'm really scared to have to move it around and stuff.

frenchmomlia |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

It is not scary. Just be gentle. A little gross? Maybe, but then lots of things about cute, adorable babies are! I agree with melina08. I was going to follow the new protocol, but am starting to smell something stinky. I will be resorting to alcohol pads. Hey, it worked for the last 3.

branfachris |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

i didn't use anything except warm water when i bathed him to make sure it was clean and they i patted it dry and it fell off on day 7.

jbyriel |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I'm an L&D nurse. First off, the umbilical cord does not have nerves in it so it does not hurt baby when you touch or move it. Next, EVIDENCE BASED PRACTICE now shows the best way to care for a newborn's umbilical cord is: 1. make sure it is not being irritated by rubbing on the diaper. Fold the top of the diaper over if you don't have a cutout one. 2. Biggest point- keep the umbilical cord CLEAN and DRY. No soaking baths, no water, NOTHING until it falls off on it's own. If it starts to smell or look infected, call your pediatrician. If it does become soiled, you can use water to gently rinse it and then PAT it dry. 3. Use of antiseptic agents for umbilical cord care reduces bacterial colonization and may inhibit leucocyte infiltration, thus delaying the separation of the cord stump. Also, shortened detachment time can lead to cord scar bleeding. So does this mean don't bathe your baby until the cord falls off? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It just means don't get the umbilical cord wet. Try sponge baths. Babies don't need full baths every day anyway, it can be overly drying to their sensitive skin.

SuperL01 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

What kind of alcohol though? Normal over the counter alcohol or a specific one????????

YuselinMaikel |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

i've been using hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria because i saw some puss leaking onto his onesie. it went away, but the cord is still there. no big deal. just wait til it's ready to fall off!

minckley |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I've actually heard the exact opposite of this advice - that by moistening it with alcohol, it will take longer to fall off than just keeping it dry, especially if you're using alcohol with every diaper change. I'm still pregnant, but I won't be doing anything to the cord unless it starts to smell funky, and then I'll clean it with a little alcohol occasionally.

ManaLynx |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I just had my son on March 1, 2011. The doctors and nurses told us and showed us how to clean the cord with a little alcohol pad 3x's a day. I forgot quite a few times, but he never had any puss or odor. I also kept it dry and used the diapers with the cord cut out area. His cord just fell off this morning and it looks like there is some dried blood in the creases. For now I swabbed it with the alcohol and will see how it looks later.

misswilddog |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

they have a new thing they used this time around, there is a 4 yr gap with my kids, kyli came back in our room with bright blue dye on her cord stump. they said to do not a thing, that the alcholol actually kept it moist. it just fell off two days ago, march 30th, she was born march 18th. and we did nothing to it.

liberty1279 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I rubbed alcohol on a Q-tip and in 7 days it fell off, but not fully there was still a part left so the dr put some medicine on it so it would finish falling but its been one month and still waiting? I dont know what to do until my babys next appointment in a week.

Suellen787 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

with my first 2 ( 4 and 3) they told me to take alcohol and drip it on around the cord every diaper change. i did and both of my boys' fell off within 2 weeks. with my daughter ( 3 wks old) they told me to do nothing and it would fall off within 3 weeks then i could give her a bath. but i remembered the boys' cords and did the alcohol swabs and dropped a small amount on her cord and it fell off in 8 days!!!! i recomend that to any new mother. just take a Q-Tip or alcohol swab from the store squeeze it over the cord then leave it alone. do that after each diaper change it works!

bcrocco |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I actually did nothing. My daughter's umbilical cord fell off after 4 days.

spoisant |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I agree also. With my first son I wiped his umbilical cord with an alcohol every time I changed him. In about two weeks Max it dried up and fell off by itself. I plan to do the same with my newborn!

kay03 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

My doctor told me to do nothing, just to keep it dry! That worked great for us, his cord fell off when he was 4 days old!

alicia155 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Caring for the umbilical cord isnt as scary or difficalt as it may sound. You have to keep it dry, which means no baths other than spong baths, there is no need to wash the cord with soap or water. Keep the cord exposed to air as much as possible (fold down the diaper so that it is not rubbing or covering up the cord) and use alchol wipes ONLY on the cord itself, which will keep it from becoming infected and dry it out. It should fall off within the first month. If you notice it getting red, inflamed, pussy, or bloody I would recomend calling your pediatrition asap as it could be a sighn of infection. :) happy motherhood!

jlindsey41 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

my sons umbilical cord fell off and there is still blood looking stuff around his belly button and ive been cleaning it with alcohol. does anyone else know what to do?

kryssgonzzx3 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I let it air dry and the cord fell off when the baby was six days old. I think the most important part of the healing is after the cord fall's off.

gottigirl2005 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

The cord dries out and falls off FASTER WITHOUT the use of alcohol which is WHY they changed the recommendation. Alcohol keeps the cord moist. Maybe you should actually read the studies and why they changed their mind about cord care BEFORE you put your two cents in.

dell126 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

And my son's alcohol treated stump took 3 weeks to fall off and my daughter's leave it alone stump took 5 DAYS.

dell126 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Why do babies need baths before 3 weeks of age? I did nothing to the cord and it fell off on day 16 on its own. I was told to just keep it dry. I gave her sponge baths which is probably safer than a bath at her early age anyway.

Mary Geo |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I used alcohol immediately, her cord fell off in 3 days

kayandra |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

With my 8 year old, I used Q-tips with alcohol and the cord fell off after only a week with no problems. With my 19 month old, they told me not to use alcohol and it started smelling bad and getting puss in it. I started using alcohol after that and his cord finally fell off at about 3 1/2 weeks. So regardless of what the new studies say, I'm going to go from personal experience and use alcohol on my newborn when I have her in September.

mystikangel4223 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

My baby is 10 days old and the nurse at the hospital told me to use alcohol twice a day. She said immersion baths were fine and to use alcohol after the bath to dry out the stump, and let it air dry. A nurse at another hospital also said that she had heard immersion baths were fine too, and that her hospital hadn't moved to them yet but probably would be soon.

sarahkim27 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

it's easiest to just make a habit of it, as you change the diaper, just have alcohol and a qtip and get all over it, so it comes off quicker, and easier. pretty, simple.

GelBaby12 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Make sure you keep the umbilical cord very dry and it will fall off on its own but when it does fall off like my daughter's did it still bleeds just a bit so every diaper change make sure you dap and clean the area...and if you are noticing your baby's clothes are getting ruined from the blood from their belly button just put a band-aid over it (this is after it falls off) and change the band-aid after every diaper change..! So it doesn't cause an infection.

britt1994 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

What if I don't want my baby subjected to harmful chemicals such as alcohol and don't want to wait a month?

InChristJesus |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

We did the alcohol on the q-tip thing as our doctor told us to do... and within a week the cord fell off... but i have a question... the 1" of cord extending from our daughter fell off but not to part inside her belly button... so its like there is this cord plug in her belly button. Is that normal? When will that come out?

Jessiessie3 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

i am going with the let it dry on its own plan. that's what they told me in the hospital. no alcohol, but I have the hardest time keeping the diaper from bumping into it. i have the kind of diaper with the cut out but also fold it down. it keeps rubbing and now there is a small amount of blood from the spot where the diaper rubs. any suggestions? it's pretty cold here in nh in the winter, but i'm thinking of cranking up the heat and keeping her diaper free for as much of the day as possible

duckydesmond |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

The hospital told me to clean it with alcohol swabs every time we changed her but everyone else said just to let it dry naturally

dino24saur |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

alcohol is for the smell it gives off, actually makes it take longer to fall off because alcohol is wet they tell you to keep it dry. i didnt do anything it fell off at 7 days , my other and older son i put alcohol on his stayed on to long skin grew onto cord they had to scrap it off the cord.

nicohea |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

ok once the umbilical cord falls off then what's next? My newborn son belly button is poppin out and wonder what I can do for belly button care.

azucasuccess |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I was told to do nothing and I was not told not to bath my daughter... I was even assisted in giving my daughter a bath during her time at the hospital. She is 14days old today and her cord is hanging on by a thread. I am going to use the advice given in a previous comment to use a blow dryer because while my daughter was in an incubator at the hospital I think it was going faster. But I'm not going to anything else. My first daughter is 15 years old and they told me to clean the area with a cotton swab at that time when it bled or oozed but they didn't tell me to use alcohol on it then either.

Yaygobabycakes |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

We were told with both our sons that we should put nothing on it or do anything to it and we could bath them normally in their baby bath. Both of their cords fell off within the first week.

jknallen |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

That is what I did also, it should kept dry.

UmAisha |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Using rubbing alcohol dries it out fast but sometimes the belly button doesn't heal because of the rubbing alcohol. Probably worth it to just let it run its course and be extra cautious while bathing.

tiffanyaharris |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I gave my baby baths with the umbilical cord still on. As did many of my friends with newborns. I havn't heard of anyone having a problem, as long as it's kept clean and DRY (they all fell of within 2 weeks). I was careful to use Q-tips around the cord, as was told that a hair dryer on cool is helpful, but no alcohol. I think that with common sense and caution, there shouldn't be a problem :)

Kristybelle |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Clean it daily with alcohol and a q-tip. If not you are dealing with a stinky dirtcatcher.

RedpunkCIN |

caring-for-the-umbilical-cord

Try olive oil. Heat it up, just about a good temp. To where it won't burn the baby, then take a cotton ball and gently wipe it on & around the umbilical cord

mariamora15 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Every parent should read "The Vaccine Book" by Robert w. Sears. He explores both sides of the vaccine debate. Very informative.

Picesqt143@aol.com |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

The Birthing Center we go to now recommends doing nothing to the cord. They used to say sponge baths and swab it with alcohol but now they say you can even submerge it and give her a tub bath right away!

chazzamatazz |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I did nothing to my baby's umbilical cord and it fell off in like 3 or 4 days. But maybe some baby's cords are a bit more stubborn than others.

mjdefrank |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Studies actually show that it falls off FASTER if you do nothing, and there is no more risk of infection than if you use alcohol. That said, we did nothing with our son's for the first I think 5 days, but the cord kind of smelled, so we decided to clean with alcohol on a Q-tip after all. It fell off about day 7 (though then he had a scab, which fell off around day 14).

dvmsara |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Yeah things are different now. With my first 4 the purple dye was applied and alcohol swabbing was suggested. & now with my 5th child was told to do nothing to the navel stump, was a little concerned about the no care just merely keep it dry. but the stump fell off 1weeks after birth, was so suprised when I saw it had fallen off so soon. New day new techniques. Found it much easier then the alcohol swabbing.

wifeMother5 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I was told not to use anything. Let nature take its course and only intervene if medically necessary, The rubbing alcohol can be absorbed into baby's bloodstream as well.

LittleNugget93 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

what to do if your your baby got his cord hooked on his clothes and it got pulled kinda hard?/

keda&tony |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

first make a mixture of 1/4 cup of antibacterial soap & 1 cup of water stir until there are lots of bubbles on the top put in airtight container and let set 1/2 hour second dip Q tip in & rub on umbilical cord. it should also fall of in about 2 weeks my daughters just fell out on sunday.

littlemissbabygirl445 |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Place a drop of two of Myrrh on the cord and it will come off in 3-5 days.

Twyjayne |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

I did nothing and it fell off on day 6.

kellyspencer |

Q&A: Caring for the umbilical cord?

Pediatrician told me to keep it dry, that's it. However, this is difficult when bathing him. So after a bath I gently used a Q-Tip to wipe away any water. My LO's came off in 8 days, no issues.

saraplum |