Your bellybutton is your baby’s first scar. This means your baby’s severed umbilical cord is his first wound and you should care for it as such. It used to be recommended that you wipe down the wound site with isopropyl alcohol. This is no longer true. Instead follow these tips:
Keep it Dry
The biggest key to umbilical cord care is to keep the area dry. Until the stump falls off at one-to-two weeks old, you should sponge bath your baby. Most newborn diapers have a cut out for the bellybutton. If not, then fold down the front of the diaper to keep the umbilical cord exposed.
Boys will no doubt find a way to pee on it and many babies will spit up or dribble milk on it. Don't worry. Wipe it off with plain water and let it air dry.
Sometimes practicing kangaroo care, using a wrap or carrier, or letting the baby sleep against your chest for extended periods of time will trap moisture. Follow with a period of open air time on the umbilical cord to maintain dryness.
When to Call the Pediatrician
Just like any other healing wound, there is a risk of infection. If your baby’s belly button appears red and irritated, starts oozing, gets goopy or starts bleeding then it's time to contact your pediatrician to make sure the umbilical cord is healing properly. Also call if your baby develops a fever. That's a sure sign of infection.
Image Courtesy of Chelsea Montgomery
Innies and Outies
Ninety percent of people have an “innie” or a navel that is concave. The other 10% have “outies.” Science still hasn't determined the reason. Some think it's genetic, while others think it's a matter of a hernia. One thing is for sure, nothing you do will create one or the other. Some people believe if you tape a coin over the umbilical cord or belly button site you can encourage an "innie." Not so. The navel is made of subcutaneous scar tissue, how it heals is not up to you. Try to remember that the important thing is that the site heals without infection or complication.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of three. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WriterBonnie for more great info on Raising Kids.