Motherhood

What to Know About Baby's Umbilical Cord Falling Off

Team Peanut
Team Peanut20 days ago6 min read

Curious about your little peanut’s umbilical cord stump? When and how does it fall off? Here’s what to know about the umbilical cord falling off.

Baby’s Umbilical Cord Falling Off

Your baby is here!

And there are a lot of new things to figure out, including that little stump of umbilical cord, which—surprise!—is still attached to your little one.

Not to worry, mama, this is totally normal, and it won’t be there for long.

Here’s what to know about the umbilical cord falling off.

In this article: 📝

  • When does the umbilical cord fall off?
  • How do I care for my baby’s umbilical cord stump?
  • What do I do when my baby’s umbilical cord falls off?
  • What should belly button look like when cord falls off?
  • What do you do when the umbilical cord falls off and it bleeds?
  • What happens if you accidentally rip the umbilical cord off?

When does the umbilical cord fall off?

The umbilical cord usually falls off between 10 and 14 days after birth.

But, as the Seattle Children’s Hospital tells us, the normal range is anywhere between 7 and 21 days.

While you’re pregnant, your baby’s umbilical cord is absolutely critical.

Think of it as their supply line. It carries blood back and forth between them and the placenta, delivering important nutrients and carrying out waste.

But these services are no longer needed once your baby has been born and they’re eating and pooping on their own.

And so, your newborn’s umbilical cord is (usually) clamped and cut at birth and forms a little stump that stays attached to them for a few days.

It’s usually greenish-yellow at first. Over time, though, it dries up, turns black, and falls off.

Is it OK if my baby’s umbilical cord falls off early?

The answer is yes, absolutely.

It’s a common refrain here at Peanut because it’s something we believe every mama should hear: every baby is different.

And if your baby’s cord drops off naturally, there’s no problem at all with it falling off early.

How do I care for my baby’s umbilical cord stump?

Caring for your baby’s umbilical cord stump might feel a little daunting at first.

And you might be worried about bumping it every time you change their diaper.

You might also be tempted to give it a little nudge to help it fall off.

Resist this urge, mama, and let things happen naturally.

Fortunately, caring for the umbilical cord stump is pretty easy.

Here are four handy tips to keep in mind:

1. Keep it clean

Water is all you need.

Simply dab the little stump with a wet cloth.

And you can ditch the soap, as it may irritate your baby’s skin.

Once you’ve given it a gentle wash, use a dry cloth to pat down the area.

2. Keep it dry

Your baby’s cord will fall out when properly dry, so try not to let the area get too wet.

Stick to sponge baths for now.

If it’s warm enough, you can also let your baby go bare-tummied so that their cord gets as much air as possible.

You might have an aunt who recommends swabbing the cord with 70% rubbing alcohol.

But this theory, which was popular in the past, has been debunked and may in fact kill some of the bacteria that help the cord to dry out.

Rather skip the alcohol.

3. Use special newborn diapers

Newborn diapers have an umbilical cord cut-out so the diaper doesn’t brush up against the cord.

You can also fold the diaper down so that the area can breathe.

4. Dress your baby in breathable clothes.

Loose clothing will help the cord dry out, so avoid snap-crotch one-pieces for now.

If you’re looking for more info, we’ve got it all laid out for you here: Umbilical Cord Care: What You Need to Know.

What do I do when my baby’s umbilical cord falls off?

After the umbilical cord falls off, keep the area clean and dry for a few days longer.

There might be some bits and pieces left behind.

Don’t worry about them, mama.

They’ll fall out when they’re ready.

Or if they’re loose, they’ll come off when you gently use a wet cloth on your baby’s brand-new belly button.

After a few more days of sponge baths, your baby is ready for their first proper soak.

What should belly button look like when cord falls off?

It’s totally normal for your baby’s belly button to be a little pink when the cord falls off.

There might even be a little scab.

Don’t pick this off either.

Like the cord, let it fall off on its own.

A little bit of blood, or some clear yellow discharge, is also normal.

Wipe the blood or discharge away with a damp cloth and gently pat the area dry.

What do you do when the umbilical cord falls off and it bleeds?

Don’t worry if you spot a little bit of blood when the umbilical cord falls off.

This is to be expected, mama.

Very rarely, though, blood from the umbilical cord area might be a sign of infection.

Other signs include:

  • Pus coming from the umbilical cord area
  • Red or swollen skin
  • Your baby’s belly button seems painful to the touch—they flinch or cry
  • Your baby being irritable, refusing to eat, or spiking a fever

If your baby’s umbilical cord bleeds a lot, or if you spot any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor straight away.

What happens if you accidentally rip the umbilical cord off?

Firstly, don’t panic!

You might think that you’ve ripped your little one’s cord off when actually, it was 99.99% of the way there anyway.

In most cases, your little one should be absolutely fine.

If there is quite a bit of blood, or if, every time you wipe away the blood, more appears, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor as soon as you can.

They’ll be able to tell you how to stop the bleeding and if you need to do anything to prevent infection.

Let nature take its course with this one, mama.

Keep your little one’s umbilical cord clean and dry, and it will fall off on its own.

And if you need some support along the way, that’s what Peanut is for.

Enjoy these first few precious weeks!

💡 More from The 411:
How to Burp a Baby: Tips & Tricks
Baby Hiccups: What to Do About Them
How to Swaddle a Baby: Your Step-by-Step Guide
How Much Do Newborns Sleep? A Rough Guide
5 Things I Wish I Knew About Baby Sleep as a First-Time Mama
How to Change a Diaper: Step-by-Step Guide
How to Sponge Bathe a Newborn
How to Calm a Crying Baby
How to Prepare for a Baby: 11 Tips
How to Dress a Baby for Sleep: Baby Sleep Clothing
10 Life-Changing Mom Hacks From Peanut Mamas
Newborn Temperature Guide
Your Guide to Baby’s First Bath

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