Navel Care

After the birth of your baby, the umbilical cord will be clamped and cut. This will leave a small stump that will dry out and fall off after some weeks. It shouldn�t take more than two or three weeks for the stump to fall off. If it hasn�t fallen off after four weeks, mention it to your child�s health care provider. However, there�s no need for concern unless the stump still hasn�t fallen off after six weeks.

Drying Out the Stump
The stump should be kept as dry as possible, so don�t cover it with your newborn�s diaper where moisture can easily get trapped. It�s also a good idea to give your baby a sponge bath until the stump has fallen off. While a few trickles of water from the sponge won�t do any harm, avoid immersing your newborn completely in water. Complete immersion into water will slow down the drying process and possibly encourage infection.

Traditionally, rubbing alcohol has been recommended as the best way of cleaning the umbilical stump. However, new evidence suggests that simply leaving the stump alone will help it fall off sooner with no increased risk of infection.

Once the stump has fallen off, a scab will form over the raw spot. This should also be kept clean and dry until it has properly healed. However, bathing your newborn immersed in water is now okay. Just make sure you properly and gently dry off the scab after the bath.

It is not unusual for umbilical stumps to give off a mild odor, which may be slightly unpleasant. However, if the odor becomes particularly offensive, contact your newborn�s health care provider as it could be getting infected.

Other signs of infection include pus, fever, and the skin around the navel being red and swollen. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your child�s health care provider right away, as umbilical infections can be serious.

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