When you give birth to your baby, a new stage of your life begins. You start receiving ‘gyaans’ from aunties and your mother and yes, the adjustment to your new life starts. Your baby’s mood swings, their fluctuating sleep cycle, health issues and obviously your baby’s umbilical stump, which you’ve been told to take good care of while washing, are just a few of the things you need to deal with. The umbilical stump is proof your baby was attached to you since their formation and the bond is to continue for eternity.
You need not worry too much about the stump, as it is there for just 1-3 weeks before drying and falling off. However, to ensure that the umbilical cord does not pose a hindrance to your baby’s health and hygiene, we bring to you a step-by-step cleaning process for your child.
1. Sponge bath
You needn’t bathe your child much till the age of one as long as their diaper area is constantly wiped and kept clean. Frequent bathing may create problems in the stump area and dry out your child’s skin due to constant evaporation of moisture from their skin. The best way to keep your baby clean without raising the need for bathing is by giving them a sponge bath. This not only keeps your baby clean, but also retains the necessary moisture in their skin. To begin a sponge bath, you should keep the following steps handy.
1. Have a basin/jug of lukewarm water ready beside you.
2. Use a damp cotton cloth to wipe the baby.
3. Try not using soap to wipe their face, as this might cause problems.
4. Start wiping from the face and go slow in the lower area.
5. Be careful in the stump region. Wipe the area in and around to keep off any chances of bacteria residue.
6. If it is a baby girl, focus on cleaning her genital area too.
2. Cleaning the belly
Being a new mom, if you are still unsure of giving your baby a sponge bath when they have their stump, you can just go for cleaning the belly button area. You can start by cleaning it using alcohol Q-tips in the first week, as this keeps the area clean and hygienic. From the second week, you can use just use water to bathe the baby and keep the stump dry for the day use Q-tips.
In some babies, the stump healing process is a week quicker, while in others, it might take up to 2-3 weeks. If you notice your baby’s quick recovery, you can start bathing them using a mild soap and water. It is also advisable to go slow and keep their baths restricted to 3 days a week, as more than this could be a problem.
4. Keep the stump dry
Try and keep the stump in conditions that keep it dry, as when it is wet, it can lead to infection and pus. Sprinkle anti-bacterial powder on the cord and don't cover the area with a cloth to allow air circulation. On warm days, keep your baby in an airy room with their diapers/nappies folded down to avoid the stump from being covered.
5. Bathing in tubs
You can try bathing your baby in a tub with a soft cloth kept on their side. Make sure that the stump if not completely covered in water and just splash water on it to keep it mildly wet. Too much of water on the stump can result in its delay in drying out and can cause bacterial residue.
6. Towel drying
Use a soft cotton towel that is not too thick to dry your baby after bathing. It is advisable to wipe the stump area properly after every bath, as even a little water in that area can bring on an infection. You can sprinkle 2-3 pinches of antifungal powder around the stump area and then wipe it off to ensure the water is dried up.
7. Let the stump fall off on its own
Keep yourself away from the thought of pulling the stump once you find it dried up. Never do this! It may only look dry from outside, making it a risk to pull it off. If you are manually pulling it off, this might call for unexpected consequences.