The best way to care for a newborn’s navel is by not intervening with the natural process. It is enough to follow some basic hygiene measures and, above all, keep the area dry.The navel of the newborn causes concern to some parents, especially if they do not have much experience in these matters. There is no need to worry, as a few basic cares is enough for that residue from the umbilical cord to detach and heal without problems.

When the baby is in the womb, it feeds through the umbilical cord. Once it is born it is cut off, since it no longer fulfills any function. The navel of the newborn is that rest that remains and that little by little dries up, until it finally comes off.

Navel care for the newborn is basically aimed at avoiding infection. It is enough to have proper hygiene and take some simple precautionary measures so that this does not happen. With precise measurements, in just two or three weeks that rest will come off naturally.

The navel of the newborn

At birth, the doctor or midwife cuts the umbilical cord, about 4 centimeters from the baby’s abdomen. This is done with the help of homeostatic forceps; whose function is to contain the hemorrhage. The rest of the cord is held in place with special plastic clips.

From that moment, the navel of the newborn begins a process of self-destruction. Over the days, the stump dries up, wrinkles and turns brown, until it finally falls off. Everything happens in a period of between eight and ten days. In babies born by cesarean section, it  may take a few more days.

After the fall, a wound remains that takes between three and five more days to heal. During this period, special care must be taken so that no infection or other complications occur. From then on, there will be no other concerns about it.

Navel care

Newborn navel care ends when the area has healed properly. In this regard there are myths, beliefs and half-truths. Before it was believed that the best thing was to cure the navel with alcohol of 70 degrees, either alone or in combination with an antiseptic, such as chlorhexidine.

Several studies have shown that this can delay the sagging of the navel, so it is only advisable in case the baby lives in an environment with little hygiene. Otherwise, the only rule of thumb is to keep your belly button clean and dry.

This involves some basic actions such as the following:

  • It is convenient that you wash your hands well  before bathing or changing the baby.
  • You should not tear off the navel; it will fall off naturally when it’s time.
  • You can bathe the baby without any problem; you just have to make sure to dry the navel well after bathing.
  • If the navel area becomes dirty with urine or feces, you should clean it with a towel and warm water.
  • The navel area must be kept uncovered, avoiding that the diaper or clothes cover it.

Heal the navel of the newborn

It is advisable to heal the navel of the newborn until it heals completely. This is a simple procedure, which you should do after bathing. Just follow the steps below:

  • After the bath, gently dry the baby’s entire body.
  • Bathe your hands very well, with soap and water.
  • Wet a sterile gauze with a mixture of warm water and mild soap, or with alcohol if the environment is not hygienic.
  • It cleans very well the entire area around the navel and the surface.
  • Pass a clean gauze to dry the area well.
  • Do not use cotton, nor do you use mercurochrome, mercurobromo, or iodine-based products.

Warning signs

If after 20 days there is no healing, it is possible that there is an infection -onphalitis. In these cases, the usual thing is that the area looks red and hardened. Likewise, there will be a suppuration or bloody and smelly discharge. If this happens you should go to the pediatrician.

When the stump falls off, slight bleeding is normal. If this is copious, or does not stop, it is appropriate to press the area lightly with a sterile gauze and consult your doctor. Sometimes a red pimple appears on the navel scar – umbilical granuloma. It is not something serious, but it also deserves a consultation with the pediatrician.

Sometimes a bulge also appears in the navel, which corresponds to a hernia. This is not serious and usually disappears after 2 or 3 years. Also, there may be a small protrusion in the shape of an elephant’s trunk, called the proboscis navel. The pediatrician will indicate the steps to follow.


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