Home Babies How to Care for your Newborn’s Umbilical Cord Stump

How to Care for your Newborn’s Umbilical Cord Stump


When I was a new mom, the practice of caring for my baby’s umbilical cord stump came with its own apprehensions, I must admit. Something I want to believe that many other new moms can relate to. Thankfully though, the hospital nurse graciously showed me how to do so before I got discharged. In summary, what she told me was:

  • Clean it with spirit three times a day until it falls off on its own (I was given the spirit and cotton wool that I needed to use for this). She emphasized the part that it should fall off on its own.
  • The stump will change color from whitish to blackish as it continues to dry until it eventually falls off
  • Treat the area gently
  • Keep the area clean
  • Keep the area dry

I however remember what stressed me most was how to wear the baby’s diaper. Was I to dress it over the cord stump (with its little peg) and risk it being rubbed and therefore causing it to bleed, maybe even forcefully fall off and possibly lead to an infection…(yikes), or was I to fold the diaper beneath the stump area just to make sure the cord area was left undisturbed? That really stressed me out.

Me and my second son Ello :)
Me and my second son Ello having a moment. Boy is now all grown up 🙂

Also, I wondered how the bathing would be done. Was I to soak baby in water with soap when doing so, or was I just to sponge bath him just to make sure the cord stump (and its little peg) were not disturbed?

Did you ask yourself these questions too? What did you do? Did you by any chance feel like pulling it off a little bit towards the end when it was very clear that it was just about to fall off? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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In the meantime, I have some helpful information from Dr. Adil Waris, Consultant Paediatric Pulmonologist and Lecturer at The Aga Khan University & The University of Nairobi regarding the care of the cord in a newborn baby that can guide new parents:

  • The cord must be wiped with surgical spirit 3 times a day until the cord falls off which is usually by day ten.
  • Even after the cord has fallen off, off continue swabbing the area with surgical spirit for a few more days until there is no discharge of fluid.
  • Do not insert cotton buds with spirit into the belly button as the skin there is still soft and raw.

Hope that helps!

Also Read: 5 Breastfeeding Tips for a New Mum in Hospital 

Mummy Tales is a blog dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of maternal and newborn health, as well as various issues surrounding motherhood and women. Mummy Tales is a recipient of three awards: Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) awards in the Best Topical Blog category (2014 and 2016), and the top Women and Girls Empowerment blog in Africa (2016) by the African Blogger Awards -sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Follow Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM TWITTER 

Featured image: Nyadel, a new mom at the FreMo Medical and Birth Center 



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


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