QOD: How do I care for my newborn’s umbilical cord?

Cords take about 2-4 weeks to naturally detach, so you want to make sure you keep the cord as dry as possible.

When your baby is first born and the cord is clamped, it'll appear a bit wet and gooey. Very quickly, though, the cord begins to dry.

The key to keeping the cord dry is to avoid water. We ask you to sponge bathe your baby for the first several weeks until the cord is separated for this exact reason.

In order to speed this process along, keep the baby's cord as dry as possible. Roll the top of the diaper over to expose the cord to air. Clean the area around the cord once a day with a wet washcloth and then dry it.

The cord should naturally detach within about 2-4 weeks. If it takes slightly longer, ask your pediatrician.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018

Signs that your baby's cord is infected include redness around the area of the cord or gooeyness that doesn't seem to go away. If you have any of these issues, see your pediatrician.

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