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Umbilical Cord, Delayed Separation

When will the cord fall off?

Although most umbilical cords fall off between 10 and 14 days of age, an occasional cord may stay 3 weeks. Cords can also hang by a strand of tissue for 2 or 3 days. Eventually, they all fall off by themselves, so be patient.

How can I take care of my child?

Continue what is called Dry Cord Care (natural drying). Check the skin around the base of the cord once a day. Clean away any dried secretions. Use a wet cotton swab or damp cloth. Then dry carefully.

You will need to push down on the skin around the cord to get at this area. You may also need to bend the cord a little to get underneath it.

Caution: don’t use any rubbing alcohol or other germ killer. Reason: dry cords fall off sooner. (Exception: instructed by your healthcare provider to use alcohol).

Also help the cord dry faster by keeping the diaper folded below it. If you are using disposable diapers, you can cut a wedge out of the diaper with scissors so the cord is not covered.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call during office hours if:

  • The cord is still attached after 3 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-06-03
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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