Your newborn's belly button (or pusod in Filipino) is one of those wonderous physical reminders that you and your baby were connected. When you give birth, your newborn's belly button will have a small piece of the umbilical cord attached to it. This umbilical cord stump will eventually dry up and fall off after seven to 10 days, according to pediatrician Dr. Ina Atutubo.
Stick to giving your baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord stump falls off. Dr. Atutubo says you can clean the belly button area with soap and water. Do it quickly but gently and pat it down to dry. Make sure you always wash your hands before you clean your baby's umbilical cord stump.
Moms from our Facebook group, Smart Parenting Village, also provided their cleaning tips after one mom posted her concern that her 3-month-old baby's "innie" belly button was starting to smell. Fellow moms came to the rescue with practical tips.
Do a quick swipe on the inside of your baby's belly button every bathtime. Once the umbilical cord stump has fallen off, give baby a bath in a shallow tub with lukewarm water. Gently wipe his navel with a wet washcloth that has a few drops of soap and rinse. This daily practice can prevent dirt from accumulating in your baby's navel. Don't forget to make sure the inside is thoroughly dry (use a cotton swab). A moist belly button can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.
Refrain from applying skin care product on your baby's navel. Loose powder, oils, creams, and the like can build up inside and be a cause of skin irritation or, worse, a belly button infection.
As your baby grows, periodically check your baby's belly button for any accumulated dirt. When this happens, a common practice conducted by health professionals, says Dr. Atutubo, is to clean the baby's belly button with a soft and flexible cotton bud that is dipped lightly in 70% ethyl alcohol. They delicately swirl it on the inside of the baby's belly button, but they are careful not to poke too deep. We highly recommend that if want to do this, ask your pediatrician to show you.
A member of the Smart Parenting Village who also happens to be a nurse based in Portugal shared this hospital practice of cleaning the pusod when it has accumulated a lot of dirt. Medical pros mix two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part saline solution or boiled water. They soak the baby's navel with the mixture for a while and let it dry thoroughly. Ask your pediatrician if this applies to you and how often and how long should you do it.
When in doubt, always consult your pediatrician. If your baby’s belly button area becomes tender, swollen or emits a foul odor, inform the doctor right away. While it can be accumulated dirt, it can also be a sign of infection, so better have it checked right away.