Cleaning the umbilical cord

It usually only takes a few days for a new parent to get used to working around the little umbilical cord stump on their baby’s belly when they’re changing nappies or feeding. But it can be disconcerting, as you wonder if you’ll hurt him by touching it. It’s important to work through these fears as the stump must be cleaned to keep it free from infection.

To clean, simply wash the stump with plain water, dry gently and keep it out of your baby’s nappy. Do not apply antiseptics or antibiotics to the cord unless prescribed by your doctor. There may be some discharge (which might contain a small amount of blood) and this is normal, but if oozing is accompanied by a foul odour, redness surrounding the cord, or fever, call your doctor immediately.

The small, dried piece of cord will most likely fall off painlessly by itself in anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, and you shouldn’t touch or pick at the stump.

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