Before the cord falls off

My sister just had a baby and I’ve given her as much passing-down-of-mom wisdom as possible. But there’s always something I’ve forgotten or little issues that come up. I love it when she calls me and I can help her ease that new mom anxiety.

A couple of days ago, her little baby lost his umbilical cord and I got a call asking if what was left was normal. I had completely forgotten to tell her what to expect. Then I remembered my first baby and how freaky it was when the cord came off.

I’m not a doctor, so I suggest calling your pediatrician for any questions or concerns, but I am a mom of three and can share my experience with you.

For cord care, I just let it air dry and waited for the cord to fall off before giving a bath. The pediatrician and hospital suggested T-shirts and open belly time, but my kids were all born during the colder months so I just stuck them in onsies and they all did fine. I made sure to fold the diaper down so it didn’t cover the cord.
At some point the cord began to fall off and was hanging by a thread. It was gross and annoying because I had to leave it alone and not pull it the rest of the way off. The belly button underneath didn’t look like I thought it would either. It was kind of lumpy and part of it looked a bit raw still. I just assumed the cord would fall off and a perfect and normal belly button would be waiting for me. Not so much. When my first (had to be my first) lost her cord, she was left with an umbilical granuloma. It looked like a raw pink piece of flesh sticking out of her belly button. Not what I expected. We headed to the pediatrician where she applied silver nitrate to dry it up. Within a week it was gone and her belly button was healing and on it’s way to normal.
My boys both fell off and were granuloma free. The area may look a bit raw and still have some brown crusty bits. No need to worry it will dry and any loose bits will fall off. In no time your little baby will be free of the cord…and so will you!
Call your pediatrician if you have any concerns and if the area is red, swollen, hot or has pus, if it has a foul odor, continues to bleed (a small amount of blood is normal), or your baby has a fever.