Care of the Umbillical Cord and Fingernails

Umbilical Cord

Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off within one to four weeks, you will need to clean around the cord base with rubbing alcohol with each diaper change. Gently pull up on the cord and clean the base of the cord where it is attached to the skin and is still moist. You may use either a cotton swab or a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. Your baby probably will cry during this procedure because the alcohol feels cold as it evaporates. The alcohol does not hurt your baby since there are no nerve endings in the cord. Once the cord falls off, the naval may continue to ooze for a few days. Continue to use alcohol on the cord site until the naval is completely healed. If there is some bleeding when the cord falls off, apply gentle pressure with a cotton ball or gauze square for three to five minutes. We also recommend that you keep the diaper folded below the cord until it is healed to allow more air circulation for drying. Sponge baths are preferred as well until the navel is completely healed. Your baby may still have the cord clamp on when you go home. This will fall off along with the cord. Notify us if you note; bleeding that will not stop with pressure; purulent or odorous drainage and more than just a thin margin of redness surrounding the cord.

Nail Cutting

The best time to cut your baby’s nails is when he is asleep. Use blunt-end baby scissors or a small pair of manicure or cuticle scissors. Before trimming a nail, be sure that nail has grown away from the skin so you do not cut the skin as well as the nail. If your baby awakens before you are finished, stop and finish trimming the nails when he goes to sleep again. An alternative is to dull them regularly with an emory board. You may also cover your baby’s hands with cotton mittens or socks to keep him from scratching his face.