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Life after birth : Umbilical Cord Care


Huggies® survey uncovers weird and wonderful cleaning and keepsake trends (Sept 12 2011)

umbilical cord care

Research commissioned by Huggies® and carried out by leading parenting website Mumsnet has revealed a long list of unusual practices when it comes to caring for and keeping newborn babies' umbilical cords.

Findings revealed everything from filling the wound with salt or honey and rubbing earth on the cord to more traditional but outdated methods such as putting a penny on the cord or cleaning it with pure alcohol, talcum powder or surgical spirit.

The survey of over 1,000 parents also flagged up some unusual things to do with the cord, including turning it into cufflinks, putting it in a frame and planting it alongside a tree to mark the baby's birth. Some mums also reported having heard of parents who turned the cord and placenta into pâté and ate it after the birth.

The survey found that 72% of mums were not shown how to care for their baby's cord before the birth and were confused about how best to tend to it. Some parents reported cleaning the cord wound regularly, some cleaning it at bath time and some not cleaning it at all. Almost 70% of parents surveyed said they felt nervous when touching or cleaning the cord wound and one third were surprised by its fragility.

The research was commissioned by Huggies® which has recently introduced the Umbilical Cord Cut Out newborn size one nappy, designed to avoid interference with babies' belly buttons as they heal . After speaking with new parents Huggies® recognised a lack of information available to mums about caring for the cord and so set up, a website which provides all the need-to-know information on cord care, as well as top tips from midwifery expert Nikki Khan.

Nikki, who is working with Huggies®, said: "It's very interesting that so many parents are obviously confused about how to care for their baby's cord in those very early days. The advice has changed over the years and many mums will hear various different bits of advice from friends and family, so it's no wonder that parents are unsure.

"Midwives advise parents to avoid routine cleaning of the cord and allow the wound to heal and dry naturally, with as little interference as possible. Cleaning should only really be done if the wound becomes contaminated, and just cool boiled water and cotton balls are advisable to use on this delicate area.

"The website is a great resource for expectant or new mums who are looking for guidance or have any concerns."

The survey also showed that the vast majority of mums use the 'roll down' method on nappies, to avoid interference with the cord, and this is why Huggies® have introduced the cut out to their size 1 nappies to help make changing easier for mum whilst the cord is still present.

Media GP Dr Rob Hicks said: "With new parents spending less time in hospital, and so having less opportunity to learn about the best way to care for their baby's cord, it's easy to be caught off guard. Although generally speaking cord care is straightforward, there are times when the area can become infected. Nappies with a cut-out area and the advice given on should make it easier for parents to spot when problems may be arising."

Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, said: "The results of the Huggies® commissioned work were very interesting indeed. Bringing home a new arrival is always a wonderful but hectic time for new parents, so having advice available which will make cord care as simple and stress-free as possible is excellent. It will allow parents to focus on the important parts of looking after a newborn, like sleeping and feeding."

For further information on cord care visit


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