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Alison Ross

Registered Midwife, DipHe, BSc (Hons) Was a midwife at Kingston Hospital and Specialist Midwife in Perinatal Mental Health.
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Cord and skin care

Umbilical cord care

When most babies are born, a small clamp is put on a few centimetres from the belly button before the cord is cut. The cord can then be allowed to dry and fall off naturally, usually sometime between 7 and 14 days although it can also be a little earlier or later. Top tips on care, what's normal and what's not, follow.
Video Tutorial
In Short
Careful the nappy or diaper doesn't press on your baby's umbilical cord.

Clean the cord with cotton wool and water, or in the bath, if it gets soiled with pee or poo.

It's normal for the cord stump to be a little smelly.

If smell becomes strong, if there's oozing, redness around the stump base, bleeding or infection, take your baby along to his doctor.

When should my baby’s cord fall off?

When most babies are born, a small clamp is put on a few centimetres from the belly button before the cord is cut. The cord can then be allowed to dry and fall off naturally, usually sometime between 7 and 14 days although it can also be a little earlier or later.

Should my baby’s cord be inside or outside the nappy?

Due to the placement of the cord, it can be tricky deciding whether to place the cord and clamp inside or outside the baby’s nappy.This is entirely your choice and depends on however you and baby feel most comfortable. However, if you do choose to keep the cord inside the nappy, make sure that the nappy waistband is not too tight as this may press the clamp into baby’s tummy which may be uncomfortable.

How do I clean my baby’s cord?

If the cord gets dirty from the nappy, this is not a problem and you can simply clean bathe your baby in the normal way.

My baby’s cord smells, is this normal?

As the cord shrivels and prepares to detach, it is normal for it to be a little smelly.

How can I tell if my baby’s cord is infected?

If the smell from the cord becomes very strong, and there is redness or swelling or some oozing from the umbilicus this may indicate an infection and you should see your GP as a short course of antibiotics may be necessary.

Though it can be a concern that the cord is hurting your baby there are no nerve endings present in the cord itself and so parents can be sure that this will not be worrying your baby.

Newborn cute infant baby with hand holding clip on umbilical cord at a hospital nursery.

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.