Umbilical care for your newborn baby

Learning how to properly care for your newborn baby’s umbilical cord will greatly reduce the risk of infection.

Understandably, as a new mommy caring for a newborn baby’s umbilical cord is probably top of the nerve-wracking things to do.

Many new mommies are far too scared to even think about it. Yet, many new mommies will have no choice but to tackle this task on their own.

I was lucky because when I had my daughter, I had both my mom and my mother -in – law at my disposal.

So, they both lent me a hand when it came to baby care.

However, I wasn’t so lucky the second time around. I had to care for my son on my own.

I was grateful that I could still remember some of the things I was taught about caring for my baby’s umbilical cord.

The last thing you want to have is a newborn baby with infected umbilical cord – that’s not fun at all!

There are many ways that you can promote healthy healing of the umbilical stump.




Firstly, in order to know how to care for an umbilical cord, you need to know what it is and the use of it.

Your baby’s umbilical cord is a tough but flexible cord-like structure containing blood vessels and attaches your baby to your placenta during pregnancy.

Its main use is to transport food and oxygen from your body to the babies body.




The Umbilical cord will usually be cut after the delivery of your baby. At which point, the only bit the is left is what is known as the umbilical cord stump. 

The stump eventually heals and dries up and eventually dropping off, leaving what we know as a belly button!

Mommy Tip:

It is wise to tell your midwife not to cut your baby’s umbilical cord straight after the baby.

Unless it is not medically possible, allow the umbilical cord to rest for at least five minutes. This will give it time deliver all the nutrients that are left over in the placenta, and the umbilical cord itself over to the baby.

For added sentimental value, let your spouse cut the umbilical cord instead!



OK, so now that you know what an umbilical cord is, and the use of it you need to know how to properly care for it.

There are several ways in which people will tell you to care for your baby’s umbilical cord. Well, that’s if you’re lucky because unfortunately, this is one of the many things that your midwife will not tell or teach you.

So, here are some of the basic but important things that will help you care for your baby’s umbilical cord properly and reduce the risk of infection.




The most important thing here, like any other open wound on the body, is to keep it clean.

Make sure you always wash your hands properly before and after cleaning your baby’s umbilical cord – this goes without saying that it will reduce the risk of infection.

In order to clean your baby’s umbilical stump, use cotton balls and sterilised water (Ask your midwife if they can provide you with a few to get you by).

Mommy Tip:

Never reuse a cotton ball or dip it in the sterilised water twice! It should be a dip once rub once cleaning method!

Make sure you are as gentle as possible when cleaning the stump, there is no need to try and rub off any black bits or dead skin they will eventually come off on their own!

RELATED POSTS: How to Clean Your Newborn Baby From Head-to-Toe




The whole purpose of caring for the baby’s stump is to promote recovery through drying. Therefore, it’s important that you keep the umbilical cord as dry as possible.

This means avoiding water submersion, or making sure that it is completely dry if submerged in water – I would avoid getting it wet all the time, for example,  bathing your baby every day.

Fold the front of your baby’s diaper down before securing it. This will avoid the stump being covered and causing moisture build up. Alternatively, you can get these newborn diapers that have the umbilical cord area cut-out already!

Avoid dressing your baby in tight-fitting, complicated clothes until the umbilical cord heals (by complicated I mean clothes with lots of frills, buttons, poppers and tie up laces – especially right below the belly button).

Instead, have your child wear simple loose clothes that won’t tag the umbilical cord or have it stuck in a zipper or something.

If your baby is a summer baby, on warmer days have your baby in just a diaper and a simple vest. Let the umbilical cord have some airing out time! This is the best thing you can do for it. It will keep it nice and dry and keep away any moisture from the sweat.




As mentioned above, make sure you dress your baby in clothes that are comfortable and loose enough to not tag the cord.

It’s wise to periodically check the cord to make sure that it’s not caught in anything. You will also want to have a look at it during diaper change times.

But, do not obsess over it. By this, I mean, do not be checking it every two seconds to see if it’s dried yet.

The more you tamper with it, the more risk you rum of accidentally yanking it off – leave it alone!




The umbilical stump does not require any cream to help heal. It will naturally heal on its own – so, unless instructed by your doctor, you should allow it to do just that.

Using some creams may do more damage than good as they can get clogged up between the actual umbilical cord and the stump – which can become a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

So, the best practice is to just clean it with sterilised water, or rubbing alcohol and leave it alone.




There are times when things don’t go to plan, or hard as you may try, things still go wrong.

I mentioned earlier about not obsessing over your babies umbilical cord. However, you should also be diligent and use your maternal instincts (trust me, you will have these in bounds) – to see if there is something wrong with your babies umbilical cord.

If you feel that something is off, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.

Things to look out for are:

  • redness and swelling around the umbilical stump.
  • Foul odour coming from the cord or the stum base.
  • Yellow (or any colour) discharge passing from the stump.
  • Any bleeding from the umbilical cord.
  • You baby crying or irritable when you touch around the stump.
  • When you accidentally yank your baby’s umbilical cord off.

And so there you have it!

Don’t worry, washing your baby is not as scary as it seems. You will be just fine!

I am NOT a qualified doctor, so please do not replace your doctor’s advice for the information given in this post.

But if you have any comments or questions, then please fill free to leave them in the comment section below – I would love to hear from you.

Found this post helpful? Check out other related posts



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