Baby Belly Button

image001During pregnancy, the developing baby gets oxygen and other nutrients from the mother through the umbilical cord. After the baby is born, they do not need the umbilical cord; hence, it’s clamped and cut off leaving behind a stump. There are no pain sensitive nerve fibers present in the umbilical cord; hence, no discomfort is felt by your baby while it is snipped off.

Are you concerned as to how you can care for baby belly button (umbilical cord stump)? What are the signs that your baby’s umbilical stump is infected? Read on to find out the answer.

How Long Will the Umbilical Stump Last?


After the delivery of your baby, the umbilical cord of your baby is clamped and cut off by your midwife. As already stated, your baby will not feel any pain of this. A 2-3 cm stump is left after the cord is cut. Since the umbilical cord is a living tissue that contains blood vessels, baby belly button will not immediately formed after cutting it. The area needs some time to heal and form the usual skin colored belly button.


Healing of the umbilical stump

Right after birth

After the baby is born, the cord is allowed to pulsate for a couple of minutes so as to supply some last minute nutrients to the newborn. Then the cord is clipped and cut off. Usually the doctor cuts it, whereas in some cases the father or labor partner may cut it (as elected by the mother). The clip is usually removed after the first couple of days after delivery or when you go home from the hospital.

During the first week

The umbilical cord will dry up slowly during the initial week after birth and it will turn into a dry brown or black stump. The stump will slowly start coming off after 7-10 days and then finally come off altogether. The belly button that forms as a result will look like an open sore, but it will not look red or infected.

During the first few weeks

The open sore of the belly button will heal slowly during the first 2-4 weeks after delivery and it should be healed completely by the time your baby turns 2 months old. Rarely, it may take longer than 2 months to close.

How to Care for Baby Belly Button (Umbilical Stump)

1. Keep the Stump Clean

The healing of baby belly button will be faster if it is left alone. In case the stump gets dirty or sticky, use plain water to clean it. Then dry it by using a clean, absorbent cloth on the stump or fan it by using a piece of paper.

2. Keep the Stump Dry

To facilitate drying of the base of the stump, expose it to air. Do not cover the stump with the front of your baby’s diaper, which should be folded down. Dress your baby in a T-shirt and a diaper in warm weather to improve the circulation of air.

3. Give Your Baby Sponge Baths

It is recommended to stick with sponge baths during the time the stump is getting healed. You can bathe them in a bath tub or sink after the stump falls off.

4. More Tips

You are not required to use an antiseptic on your baby’s stump. However, in premature babies and in those who have spent some time in special care, antiseptic may be used to clean the stump. Some tips are described below on how to care for baby belly button:

  • You should always wash your hands before using them to handle your baby’s stump and before and after you change her nappy.
  • Try and avoid the covering of stump in wee or poo. If it gets covered, then wash it carefully using a pH neutral baby cleanser.
  • Resist yourself to not pull the stump off and let it fall by itself.

This video explains more on overall care for newborn umbilical cord:

Watch a video to learn how to clean baby’s belly button:

Will Baby Belly Button Always Stick Out?

Your baby’s belly button may not always stick out. In around 20% of the newborn babies, an umbilical hernia may develop, which is a bulge that is caused by the umbilical cord as it enters the abdomen of the baby. After birth of the baby, the abdominal opening usually heals and closes spontaneously. The opening may not close occasionally and a bulging belly button may develop especially during the bowel movements. These hernias usually heal by themselves by around 12 to 18 months and cause no problem as long as the area is soft and compressible. However, if tenderness, swelling or discoloration develops, you should call your doctor immediately. Rarely, a part of the intestine of the baby may get caught in the abdominal opening, cutting off the blood supply. This condition needs immediate surgery. Due to this problem your baby may develop symptoms of vomiting and constipation.

Signs that Your Baby’s Belly Button Is Infected

During the process of healing, it is quite normal to notice a little crust or dried blood on the stump. You should immediately contact the doctor of your baby if she develops a fever or if the umbilical region:

  • Develops redness and swelling
  • Develops bleeding
  • Develops oozing of yellow-colored pus
  • Develops a foul-smelling discharge

In case an infection of the umbilical cord stump develops, taking prompt treatment measures may help in prevention of spreading of the infection.

You may be suggested by your midwife or health visitor to contact your GP to decide if the stump should be sealed or not. Sealing of the stump is also called cauterization, which is a simple procedure and can be done by a practice nurse by using a stick of silver nitrate.

All Categories