Your baby’s umbilical cord area should heal in about 7 to 10 days. Learn how to care for your newborn's umbilical cord to prevent infection until then.

How to Clean Baby’s Umbilical Cord

Don't be afraid to clean your newborn's umbilical cord. 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 umbilical 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 umbilical cord.

Warning Signs of Umbilical Cord Infection

Signs of an umbilical cord infection may include if your baby’s umbilical cord stump:

  • appears red or swollen in the surrounding area
  • has a strong odor
  • is streaked with red around the navel, or is discharging fluid

While it’s normal for a few drops of blood to appear when the stump separates, if you notice any of these signs of infection, call your baby’s pediatrician.