Hydrogen peroxide, wetted on a gauze or cotton ball, is perhaps the best choice for cleaning. A little mildly soapy water can also be used. (Rubbing alcohol was recommended in the past, but it tends to cause rashes).
Is hydrogen peroxide safe for newborns?
Don’t use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine. Not only will they cause more pain – they may also slow healing.
Dip a cotton swab in warm water. Squeeze the tip to remove the excess water. Gently clean around the base of the cord and then the surrounding skin, then hold the stump with a clean absorbent cloth to dry it completely. It is important that the umbilical cord remain clean and dry until it falls off naturally.
Signs of an Infected Umbilical Cord Stump
A smelly yellow discharge from the stump area. A reddening of the skin around the stump. Swelling of the navel area. Your baby crying when you touch the stump, indicating it is tender or sore.
Normal Navel Care:
- Keep the navel (belly button) clean and dry.
- If there are any secretions, clean them away. Use a wet cotton swab. Then, dry carefully.
- Do this gently to prevent any bleeding.
- Caution: Don’t use any rubbing alcohol. Reason: can interfere with healing.
Antibiotic Ointment for Pus:
- If any pus is present, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin).
- No prescription is needed.
- Put a tiny amount on the belly button.
- Do this 2 times per day after the area has been cleaned.
- Do this for 2 days. After that, use the antibiotic ointment only if you see more pus.
The part of the umbilical cord that’s still attached to your baby is the umbilical stump. Often the clamp is still attached to the stump. During the first few days after birth, the stump gets darker, shrivels and eventually falls off to become your baby’s belly button. Sometimes this takes a week or two.
Keep The Area Clean
Pediatricians used to recommend cleaning the base of the cord with rubbing alcohol. However, most now recommend leaving the stump completely alone because alcohol is believed to irritate the skin and sometimes delays healing.
Taking care of the stump
Your baby’s umbilical cord stump dries out and eventually falls off — usually within one to three weeks after birth. In the meantime, treat the area gently: Keep the stump dry. Parents were once instructed to swab the stump with rubbing alcohol after every diaper change.
It is normal for the belly button to look a bit mucky or to have a red spot where the cord used to be. It can also be smelly and have some clear, sticky or brownish ooze that might leave a stain on your baby’s nappy or clothes. This is part of the healing process, which may take up to seven days to mend completely.