Umbilical Cord Care
"The cord can be cleaned a few times a day with alcohol or it can just be left to air dry," says Dr. Nadine Schwartz, a pediatrician and mother in Philadelphia. "Leaving it alone is the better option, according to the latest literature."
Most important is keeping the cord dry (see diapering instructions, above). Dress your baby in cotton clothing that allows the skin to breathe. If you decide to use rubbing alcohol, avoid getting it on the skin as it can cause itching and irritation. Change the diaper before cleaning the stump to minimize the risk of spreading bacteria.
To clean the stump you will need cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol:
- Place your baby on the back using a flat, secure surface.
- Soak tip of cotton swab with rubbing alcohol.
- Gently wipe swab around the base of the umbilical cord, including any folds and crevices.
- Dip the opposite end of the swab in alcohol and repeat step three.
- Dab the top and sides of the cord itself with a second cotton swab moistened in alcohol.
As the umbilical cord heals, it will darken, then will eventually fall off completely. This usually takes two weeks to a month, but the time can vary significantly. Notify your pediatrician if you notice a pus-like discharge or a foul odor emanating from the stump.