How to Care for Your Newborn’s Belly Button

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The umbilical cord on a newborn baby’s belly button needs to be constantly looked after and taken care of after the delivery of the baby, until the cord dries and falls off. Here is what you need to do to take care of your child’s belly button.

Let the Umbilical Cord Dry and Fall Off

It is extremely important to note that the stump should not be pulled off. It is ideal to let the cord on the baby’s belly button dry and fall off itself. Try to resist the temptation to pull it off, even if it looks like its hanging by a thread. The umbilical cord will initially be a pale blue colour, which will slowly dry and turn black until it finally falls off.

Keeping the Baby’s Belly Button Dry

Make sure the belly button is well exposed to air. In warm weather, dress the baby in a diaper, with the top folded down (or purchase diapers for newborns which have an open space for the belly button) to avoid getting urine on the baby’s belly button, and a loose t-shirt to ensure circulation of air. Do not dress your baby in bodysuit style undershirts, as this can cause hindrance in the circulation of air.

Cleaning the Stump

Alcohol should NOT be used to clean the stump. Researchers have recently discovered that the belly button heals faster if alcohol is not used, and does not increase the risk of infection. It also irritates the baby’s skin. However, the stump does require to be cleaned regularly, which should be done by washing the belly button with plain water and dry it by placing a clean, absorbent cloth over it.

Bathing the Baby

Give the baby sponge baths as opposed to tub baths. This will help keep the belly button dry. After the stump falls off, the baby can be bathed in tubs or sinks.

Infection of the Umbilical

Infection of the umbilical cord is rare, however, if it does occur, please immediately refer to the pediatrician. If the skin surrounding the umbilical cord becomes red, and the baby cries if you touch the skin or the cord, the belly button is most likely infected. Also if the stump smells fouls and gives off pus, it means the cord has been infected. If the stump falls off, and pus oozes out of the baby’s belly button, it means that the area is infected. Under such circumstances immediately refer to your doctor.

When the stump falls off a little blood might get on the diaper, this is normal. On some occasions, you may see the drainage of a yellowish or clear fluid, and the remains of pieces of flesh. These small lumps of flesh are called ‘umbilical granulomas’. They may disappear on their own or may be needed to be surgically removed by a doctor. However, the process of the removal of these granulomas is painless as they do not have any nerve endings. Bleeding can occur when the stump falls off, however, if the bleeding persists, immediately call the practitioner

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