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Learn how to care for your newborn's umbilical-cord area until it heals.

Don't be afraid to clean your baby's umbilical cord: the quicker the base dries, the sooner the cord will fall off. Be sure that you have washed your hands before handling the cord. If the umbilical cord becomes soiled with urine or feces, you should clean the area when you change your baby’s diaper. To clean the cord safely, take a cotton swab, cotton square or cotton round and clean around the base of the cord with clean water.

Remember to avoid covering the cord with the diaper, because the cord area should be kept dry and clean at all times. If the diaper is too high, fold it down on your baby before securing. You can also buy special newborn diapers that have a space cut-out for the cord. The cord area should heal in about 7 to 10 days.

Warning Signs

Call your baby’s pediatrician if you notice that the umbilical cord stump:

  • is soft
  • has a strong odor
  • is streaked with red around the navel, or is discharging fluid

It’s normal for a few drops of blood to appear when the stump separates.

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