Umbilical Cord Care

While our parents were advised to clean our umbilical cords with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, we now know that all your baby needs is to have the cord kept clean and dry.

Sponge bathe your baby rather than submerging the cord in water. Keep the diaper rim folded below the umbilical cord to prevent urine from reaching the cord. As the cord begins to fall off, expect a few drops of blood and/or clear to a yellowish fluid. This is normal.

However, please contact your pediatrician if you notice any of the following:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Red skin around the base of the cord
  • Foul-smelling yellowish discharge from the cord
  • Touching the cord or skin around it causes your baby pain

At times, the umbilical cord will not completely dry up before it falls off. A small, reddish mass of scar tissue will remain and may drain a yellowish fluid. This is frequently confused with an infection but will almost always self-resolve. If it persists or is bothersome to the family, your pediatrician can treat this for you.

If you leave the hospital within 24 hours after birth, the cord may not have been dry enough to remove the cord clamp before you went home. If this is the case, bring your child to our office at 2-3 days of age. One of our nurses will remove the clamp for you.

Read More:

Go Back to All About Newborns

Share this article:

Help at Your Fingertips

Access this health library and much more, from anywhere with our free app for parents of newborns.

Stay connected to your children’s health:

Want pediatric news, kid-friendly recipes and parenting tips?
Sign up for our patient parent newsletter:

Other great ways to connect: