Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Umbilical Cord - Normal Navel Care After Cord Falls Off

Definition

  • Questions about how to care for the navel in newborns
  • The navel is also called the belly button or umbilicus
  • The umbilical cord has already fallen off

 

Call or Return If

  • Develops a red streak or redness around belly button
  • Fever occurs
  • Cloudy discharge occurs
  • Your baby starts to look or act abnormal
  • You think your baby needs to be seen

About This Topic

Normal Cord

  • Normal cords don't need any special treatment.
  • Just keep them dry (called natural drying).
  • Reason: Cords need to dry up, before they will fall off.
  • As they dry up, cords normally change color. They go from a shiny yellowish hue, to brown or gray.
  • The cord will normally fall off between 1 and 3 weeks.

Normal Navel (Belly Button)

  • After the cord has fallen off, the navel will gradually heal.
  • It's normal for the center to look red at the point of separation.
  • It's not normal if the redness spreads on to the belly.
  • It's normal for the navel to ooze some secretions.
  • Sometimes, the navel forms a scab. It heals up and falls off on its own.

After Care Advice

What You Should Know:
  • The cord can't fall off too early.
  • The average cord falls off between 10 and 14 days. Normal range is 7 to 21 days. Even if it falls off before 7 days, you can follow this advice.
  • After the cord has fallen off, the navel will gradually heal.
  • It's normal for the center to look red at the point of separation.
  • It's not normal if the redness spreads on to the belly.
  • It's normal for the navel to ooze some secretions.
  • Sometimes the navel forms a scab. Let it heal up and fall off on its own.
  • The navel has a small risk of becoming infected.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Normal Navel Care:
  • Keep the navel (belly button) clean and dry.
  • If there are any secretions, clean them away. Use a wet cotton swab. Then, dry carefully.
  • Do this gently to prevent any bleeding.
  • Caution: Don't use any rubbing alcohol. Reason: can interfere with healing.
Bathing:
  • After the cord falls off, continue sponge baths for a few more days.
  • Help the belly button area dry up.
  • Then, tub baths will be fine.
Diapers:
  • Keep the navel dry to help healing.
  • To provide air contact, keep the diaper folded down below the navel.
What to Expect:
  • The belly button should be healed and dry by 7 days.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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