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How to Bathe a Newborn with an Umbilical Cord

umbilical stump. Baby hygieneAfter your baby is born, your newborn will have an umbilical cord stump. The umbilical cord is that special cord that provided the nutrients from you to your baby when you were pregnant. Upon delivery, the umbilical cord is snipped to separate your baby from you. There are a few common questions that first-time parents have about umbilical cords and the care of them. One of them is how soon you can bathe your newborn with an umbilical cord and how to bathe a newborn with an umbilical cord.

First things first- here are a few tips on umbilical cord care.

  • Tip #1- Keep the umbilical cord clean and dry. It was typically recommended that the umbilical cord stump be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol on a daily basis to both clean and dry out the stump. This is recommended less because of concerns of irritation. If you decide to use alcohol, just be mindful that too much alcohol can irritate your newborn’s delicate skin and watch out for this irritation. To help keep it dry, let the umbilical cord stump be exposed to air as much as possible. Make sure to fold down your baby’s diaper to avoid the diaper covering up the stump.
  • Tip #2: Don’t try to pick off the umbilical cord. Know that it may take one to two weeks for the umbilical cord stump to fall off on its own. If you manipulate the stump, you may accidentally introduce unwanted germs that may lead to a secondary infection.
  • Tip #3: When considering how to bathe a newborn with an umbilical cord, know that you cannot give your newborn a traditional bath in a baby tub with water. As long as the umbilical cord stump is there, your baby can only have a sponge bath. Giving only sponge baths minimizes the chance that the stump gets too wet and doesn’t dry out appropriately in order to fall off. When giving a sponge bath, know that your newborn baby is not that dirty and avoid using too much or a soapy cleanser. Watch the water temperature and keep it nice and warm but not to dangerously hot. Check the water on yourself first before using on your baby.

Watch out for signs of infection which include pain, redness and swelling at base of stump, pus drainage, or bleeding.

Enjoy that newborn baby of yours! Keep things simple. Expect the umbilical cord stump to fall off in one to two weeks by keeping it dry, and stick with sponge baths until the umbilical cord stump falls off.