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Your New Baby: A Troubleshooting Health Guide

His Belly Button's Red and Looks Infected!

Go ahead and contemplate his navel, but don't worry about it. Infection is very rare, though you may notice small drops of blood on his diaper when the umbilical stump is healing or after the cord falls off. That's normal. "Emily's cord came off at the end of the first week, and the stump looked like the neck of a wine bottle with chipped paint on it  -- it was red and looked irritated," says Annie Eastman of Elmhurst, Illinois, whose daughter is now 10 months old. "But a week or two later, the scabbing disappeared."

The stump of the umbilical cord usually turns black and falls off during the first few weeks. Until then, give him a sponge bath only, but it's okay if the stump gets wet; just gently towel it dry. And no need to reach for rubbing alcohol. Studies show that if you use it on your baby's umbilical cord, the stump can take up to two days longer to fall off than with dry cord care.

Call the pediatrician if: the belly button oozes pus or leaves more than a dab of blood on the diaper. Also contact your doctor if the skin at the base of the stump turns red or is painful when you touch it. Your baby may have an infection that needs immediate medical attention.