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Caring for the Umbilical Cord at Home

The umbilical cord is clamped immediately after birth. The clamp is removed before the baby goes home from the hospital. The cord stump should fall off in seven to 14 days. When it falls off, a small amount of blood or wetness is normal. At home, you should:

  • Keep the cord clean and dry. The drier the cord, the sooner it will fall off.
  • Use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean around the base of the cord three times a day or when soiled with urine or stool. You may continue to apply alcohol even after the stump falls off until the area is dry.
  • Do not give your baby a tub bath until the cord falls off and the area looks healed. This will take seven to 10 days. Give him or her a sponge bath instead.
  • Roll the diaper as low as you can so that when the baby kicks, the diaper does not hit the cord.

Call your baby's health care provider if you notice:

  • A bad smell coming from the cord.
  • Redness around the cord.
  • A yellow or greenish discharge.
  • Bleeding.
  • A cord that remains soft and moist.