Changing newborn diapers: Umbilical cord care

Changing newborn diapers: Umbilical cord care

With today's modern disposables, it can be nearly impossible to tell by touch if your baby's diaper is wet. Try and plan on changing her after every feeding at first, as well as after every bowel movement. While her cord is attached, use the notch-cutout diapers (or fold down a regular one), and be sure to daub the stump with a wet cotton ball or swab when you change her.

Here are a few more helpful diapering tips.

  • Wipes may be used whenever you change a diaper, but they're especially handy when the diaper's messy.
  • If you wish, apply ointment or petroleum jelly to help prevent diaper rash before you put on a clean diaper.
  • Wrap the clean diaper around your baby firmly and fasten the tabs in front.
  • If your baby's skin is red around the diaper when you change it, it's either fastened too tightly or your baby is ready for the next biggest size.

If you start to experience frequent leaks, it may be time to move up to the next biggest diaper size.


When it comes to taking care of your baby's umbilical cord, keep these guidelines in mind.  

  • Take care of your baby's umbilical cord stump until it falls off on its own (usually 10 days to three weeks after your baby's birth).
  • Daubing the stump with a clean, wet cotton ball or swab at every diaper change is usually sufficient, but check with your healthcare provider if they recommend anything else.
  • Pay special attention to the area at the base of the cord, nearest to the belly button. Wipe gently but thoroughly to clean out any moist debris that may have collected there.
  • Be sure to allow air to reach the cord stump – use a notched diaper (or fold down the edge of a regular diaper) and avoid tight clothing around your baby's stomach.

Read more about diapering and cord care from Dr. Anthony Mancini.