Baby Hints & Tips

How do I care for my newborn’s belly button?

Now that you have your newborn baby there are so many things new things to learn and you often feel bombarded by information. This article is aimed to be brief, concise, and answer all those questions that you have about caring for your newborn’s belly button.How do I care for my newborn's belly button?

Your newborn’s belly button is the area where the umbilical cord has separated from the abdomen of your baby. The cord usually has a clamp placed on it after birth. This clamp is often removed after 24 hours and what remains is the drying stump of the umbilical cord.

After around 7-10 days (some stumps may take longer) this umbilical stump falls off. In the meantime, it is important to take care of this area so that it heals well and doesn’t cause you or your baby any problems.

Caring for newborn’s belly button – 8 tips

  • Always use clean hands to clean the area – this has been an open area where blood vessels have been directly accessing your baby. You don’t want any type of infection in this area.
  • Keep the area clean and dry – make sure that after a bath or nappy change the area around the stump is dry. This can be patted dry using a towel or cloth. You don’t need to use lotions or bandage the area.
  • It doesn’t matter if you have the baby’s nappy over or under the cord stump -studies have shown that the cord dries in a similar fashion with either method. Do however make sure that it remains clean and dry after nappy changes.
  • Do not try to pull off the cord stump, even if it only seems to be attached by a thin piece of skin. In doing this it can cause bleeding and increases the chances of infection.
  • Do not apply lotions, creams or oils to the cord stump area. Your baby’s body is designed to heal this area itself and applying these ointments can cause irritation to the baby’s skin.
  • If you notice a small amount of bleeding on the nappy as the cord stump dries this normal and is just due to the drying skin.
  • Sometimes there is some oozing or fluid around the baby’s cord stump. It can also sometimes smell. This is a normal part of the healing process, just simply clean it away and monitor the area for any signs of infection.
  • There is no way to make your baby have an innie or an outie belly button. This is actually decided by the baby’s abdominal muscles and the way that the cord is drying internally as well as externally.

Newborn’s belly button additional concerns

It is important to see your healthcare professional if:

  • Your baby’s stomach becomes hot, swollen or red around the umbilical cord area.
  • There is continual ooze from the cord stump that is smelly and looks like an infection.
  • If your baby has a fever and is unwell.
  • If you are concerned with the way your baby’s cord stump is healing.

In no time at all the cord stump will fall off and this part of your newborn’s journey into their new world will be a distant memory.

If you have any concerns at all regarding your newborn’s belly button, please do see your health care provider, community health nurse, or local GP.

More tips for life with a newborn

About the Author:

Michelle Penn has over 10 years experience as a midwife and child & family health nurse. As well as being mum to four little ones (including four-year old twin boys), she is passionate about empowering and educating new mums with relevant and interesting information to help them with the amazing journey which is motherhood. When Michelle is not delivering babies or raising her own tribe you’ll find her running, removing small pieces of Lego from the bottom of her feet, or escaping the grind with a good read of chick lit.

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