We had our baby 10 days ago. My husband and I are caring for our little boy, and when we have to clean his umbilical cord, we are not really comfortable. I am scared of hurting him or pulling too hard on the cord, it comes off and then bleeds. Can you help reassure us? Louis and Andréanne

Hello Louis and Andréanne,

Many parents share your concern. They feel that they are clumsy with the cord, and don’t want to pull on it fearing that they will cause their baby pain. But no, you don’t have to worry about hurting your baby. A baby reacting to cord cleaning will do so because they are naked, cold or still damp after their bath, not because you are pulling on it.

After childbirth, we tell you to frequently dry the contours of the cord to allow it to dry out faster. This will help it fall out more quickly. You don’t have to disinfect the site unless your health professional advised you to. But you have to keep it dry. To do so, all you have to do is gently pull it to free the folds around it. Then, using a Q-Tip, dry the area. Repeat as long as the cotton is clean, then release the cord. Ideally, you should do this 2-3 times a day, which will help dry the cord. Over time the cotton will contain less brown blood residue.

If there is dried blood in the folds, wet your Q-Tip with warm water and clean the folds, then use the dry tip to dry the site.

Don’t worry, cleaning their belly button won’t hurt your baby, and when the cord falls out, don’t be surprised if there is a bit of red or pink blood. This is NORMAL and won’t harm your baby. Continue to dry it for a couple of days, then you can stop giving special care to their belly button.

If you note a bad smell or greenish discharge from their belly button, it may be infected. Ask your pharmacist about what product you should use in this case.

Your baby is lucky to have such caring parents! Bravo!

Talk soon,


The Baby Expert

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