Skip to main content

How to Care for a Baby's Umbilical Cord Stump

How to Care for a Baby's Umbilical Cord Stump

To prevent infections, you must look after your baby's umbilical cord throughout the first few weeks of life. After birth, your healthcare professional will cut the umbilical cord, leaving the umbilical cord stump—a little piece of the cord that hangs onto the baby's body—hanging on. In one to two weeks, the stump will naturally dry out and fall off. It's crucial to remember, though, that you should never remove the stump by yourself. Rather, make sure the stump stays dry and clean to prevent infections.

What happens to your baby's umbilical cord after birth?

After birth, your newborn can breathe on their own and feed themselves, thus they no longer require an umbilical cord. Your healthcare practitioner will thus clamp and cut your baby's umbilical cord. This interrupts the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from you to your child.

Rest assured though that your baby cannot feel their clamped umbilical cord stump because it lacks nerves. Your baby is not harmed by the chord as it dries, shrinks, and comes off.

Cleaning and caring for your baby’s umbilical cord stump1

Your baby’s umbilical cord stump should be dry and clean so that it can fall off naturally. Your baby might get an infection if the umbilical cord stump isn't taken care of appropriately. Here are some things to consider when cleaning and caring for your baby’s umbilical cord stump:

  • Prior to touching the umbilical stump, wash your hands. However, make sure you steer clear of it whenever you can.
  • Except in cases when the region gets wet or soiled, you should only use water to clean your baby's umbilical stump and belly button area. 
  • If this occurs, use clean water and a gentle baby cleaner to remove the pee or poop. 
  • After washing, make sure the stump dries completely. 
  • Exposing the stump to as much air as possible may speed up its drying and healing processes. 
  • Avoid covering your baby’s umbilical cord stump with diapers and pants. If at all possible, fold diapers under the stump. 
  • Even if it appears like the stump is about to fall off, you should never attempt to remove it yourself.

Once the stump has come out, the area has to be kept dry and clean until it heals fully. 

Signs of infection in your baby’s umbilical cord stump2

Check for infections on the stump of the umbilical cord. This doesn't happen very often. If it does, though, the infection can proliferate rapidly.

At the stump, symptoms of a localized infection include3:

  • Yellow, foul-smelling discharge 
  • Inflammation, redness, or soreness of the skin surrounding the stump

Watch out for symptoms of a more severe infection. Contact your baby’s physician if your baby 

  • Develops a fever 
  • Is drinking the recommended amount of milk 
  • Is lethargic 
  • Feels weak 

If you remove the umbilical cord stump, it will begin to bleed. Contact your baby's healthcare professional right away if the cord stump bleeds.

Occasionally, the chord may produce a granuloma, which is pink scar tissue, rather than drying entirely. A pale yellowish liquid is drained from the granuloma. Most of the time, this will pass after a week or so. If not, give your baby's provider a call. 

What should you do with your baby's belly button once the umbilical cord falls off?

When the cord falls off, your child's belly button may bleed a little bit. Light bleeding is typical. However, for unusual bleeding contact your healthcare provider immediately. Continue giving your baby a sponge bath a few days after the stump falls off to ensure that the entire cord detaches itself and that there is no bleeding in the affected region. After that, you can let your child bathe in a tub.

In conclusion, keeping the cord clean and dry is the ideal approach to taking care of your baby’s umbilical cord stump. To prevent the diaper from covering up the stump and hindering its ability to dry, be sure to fold it toward the front. Resist the urge to pull on your child's cord. If you see any symptoms of an infection, such as swelling, fever, or difficulties with your baby's regular feeding schedule, consult your healthcare professional.





Moms around the world trust JOHNSON’S® to care for their babies

We are committed to working with moms, healthcare experts and scientists to ensure our products continue achieving the highest standards in safety, quality and care.

Back to Top