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Guide for the Care of Children Online Manual

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Cord care

After your baby's umbilical cord is clamped and cut, a small piece of the cord remains. This dries out and then falls off revealing the "belly button."

Baby lies on back with healing umbilical cord.

The process usually takes 5 to 10 days, but can take longer. When the cord falls off, there may be a few drops of blood at the site. This is normal.

Until the cord drops off:

  • Clean the cord according to your health care provider's instructions.
  • Keep the cord dry. Gently pat the cord dry with a towel if it gets wet during a bath.
  • Keep the diaper below the cord. This helps keep the cord dry and open to the air. It also prevents irritation from urine.

It there's stool on the cord, drip some warm water on the cord and wipe it off.

When to call your health care provider

Call your health care provider if the cord site:

  • starts bleeding
  • oozes for many days
  • gets red
  • has a foul smelling discharge


Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition

To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."

First published: 02/01/2010
Last updated: 01/01/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic