Umbilical Cord Care

Proper care can help your baby’s umbilical cord heal. Do not pull or pick at the cord. It should fall off on its own within 2 weeks after the birth. Use the steps below as a guide.

Closeup of baby's abdomen showing inflammation on belly around umbilical cord stump.

Caring for Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord

To help prevent infection and keep the cord dry:

  • Keep the cord open to the air.

  • Fold down the top edge of the diaper, so the diaper will not cover or rub against the cord.

  • Avoid clothing that constricts the cord.

  • Do not place the baby in bath water until the cord has fallen off and the area where the cord was attached is dry and healing. Instead, bathe your baby with a damp wash cloth.

  • Do not try to remove the cord. It will fall off on it's own.

Call your baby’s health care provider

Contact your baby's health care provider if you see any of the following:

  • Redness or swelling around the cord

  • Discharge or bad odor coming from the cord

  • The cord doesn’t fall off by 4 weeks after the birth

  • Your baby has a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher