Having a baby is hard work, your life is completely thrown out the window, so here are some tips on umbilical cord care and bathing that will hopefully help answer any questions parents out there may have!
The umbilical cord takes about 2 weeks to fall off, and until it falls out, please keep that area dry. If the umbilical cord gets wet, it could get infected. That was how your baby got all its nutrients inside of you, so if it gets infected the infection could spread to the rest of the body very quickly. If you see any bloody discharge, try wiping it away with a clean dry cloth once or twice, but if it continues, please give us a call. Same thing for yellow discharge, but call immediately if there is yellow discharge and redness around the belly button. And please please don’t use rubbing alcohol around the umbilical stump, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend that anymore.
Now that I’ve freaked you out completely, lets talk about something a little more calming…baths. Those first 2 weeks while the umbilical cord is still on, just do sponge baths. Make sure to clean the hands and face frequently, and genital area with every diaper change. I think they even have wipes especially for newborn babies that you can use if you are nervous about sponge baths.
After the umbilical cord stump dries up, falls off, and the area heals, you can start giving the baby a tub bath every few days. It’s easiest to use the kitchen sink or a small plastic baby tub filled with warm water instead of a standard tub initially. When you do start giving baths, make sure the baby is never left alone in the bath, make sure the temperature of the water heater is set to less that 120°F, and did I mention never to leave the baby alone!!!
Try to get into a nighttime routine with the bath, it can be very calming for some babies and actually help them fall asleep a little easier. Usually at this age they only need a bath every 2 to 3 days, because bathing too often can actually dry them out too much. If you find that the bath helps the baby sleep then just do very short baths with a very small amount of soap. There are so many different soaps out there….I wish I was getting paid to say this but I’m not. I really don’t like Johnson’s products, but I love Aveeno baby, Eucerin baby, Cetaphil baby, and anything natural. Just please don’t use Johnson’s products because they have a lot of chemicals in them that cause so many rashes in little babies.
That’s all I got for now. Hope this helps, and if you feel like you have any questions please call us!
~ Dr. Pooja Prasad