Natural Remedies for Newborn Cord Care

| Modified: May 22, 2017
Proper care of a newborn baby's umbilical cord is essential to prevent infection and facilitate healing. Natural remedies to care for a newborn's cord stump include goldenseal and turmeric, in addition to proper hygiene practices.

The care of a newborn baby’s umbilical cord has had many variations over the centuries. Many of the remedies used for generations are effective; others may be benign at best and dangerous at worst. Around the world some remedies that have been used to treat a newborn’s cord stump include butter, chewed rice, lotion, mustard oil, baby powder and even cow dung. None of these are recommended for helping the cord stump to heal!

Because the umbilical stump can become infected until it completely dries up and falls off as a scab would, proper care and cleanliness is important. Death by infection is not uncommon among babies worldwide. Unfortunately, some cord care traditions and lack of proper sanitation contribute to this risk.

After a baby’s umbilical cord has been tied, a stump remains at the navel. It dries up over time and usually falls off in 1-2 weeks, though it can take up to 3-4 weeks for the cord stump to fall off. During the healing time, the cord scab should be kept clean and dry. If redness, oozing, puss or foul odor are noticed at the site of the cord stump, infection has likely set in and a doctor’s help must be enlisted to ensure that sepsis does not set in.

Natural remedies for umbilical cord care can help to keep the cord stump free of infection and help the cord scab to fall off on its own more quickly.

Goldenseal Root

Goldenseal is a powerful anti-infective herb. The powdered root of goldenseal can be sprinkled onto the cord stump several times a day. Goldenseal is bright yellow and has a distinct odor. It can stain clothes. Oregon grape root has similar properties and is less expensive. Because of its scarcity, goldenseal can be difficult to find or expensive. However, you will need less than a tablespoon of the root powder for the healing period.

Turmeric Root

Turmeric has amazing properties for healing wounds and preventing infection. It has been used around the world for wound care and newborn cord care for generations. Used like Goldenseal, Turmeric root powder can be sprinkled onto the umbilical stump several times a day. Again, like Goldenseal, turmeric can stain clothing.

Colloidal Silver

At one time, silver nitrate was used on cord stumps in the hospital to prevent infection. A simple colloidal silver spray can be used at home instead. A spritz of colloidal silver can be applied to the cord stump 3 times a day.

Once the cord stump completely dries out and falls off (never pick the stump scab or pull on it to remove it) Continue to keep the area clean and use whatever natural remedy you have been using on the navel for a few more days to ensure complete healing.

What about Rubbing Alcohol?

For many years, the modern medical community has recommended rubbing alcohol to clean the umbilical cord stump at each diaper change. Rubbing alcohol dries out the cord stump and prevents infection. Current thinking on this is that keeping the area clean and dry is just as effective as rubbing alcohol and preferred over alcohol as alcohol can be hard on the tender healing skin.

Have you used a natural remedy to facilitate the healing of your newborns umbilical cord stump? Please send us some feedback!


About the Author: Deirdre Layne

Founder and CEO of Earth Clinic, has an extensive background in health and healing. She created EarthClinic.com in 1999 as a way to teach people about natural remedies and alternative healing therapies. Since then, thousands of people around the world and their pets have been healed by the remedies found on Earth Clinic. Deirdre holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College in Philosophy and is the author of the book Apple Cider Vinegar: A Modern Folk Remedy.


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Posted by Mama to Many (Tennessee, US) on 06/03/2014
5 out of 5 stars

I was talking recently with a friend about goldenseal and remembered what a blessing it was for newborn umbilical cord care.

The typical United States recommendation for umbilical cord stump care in newborns is to clean the umbilical stump with rubbing alcohol at each diaper change. I did this faithfully for all of my babies and none ever did have infection. However, my children's umbilical stump hung on for weeks! One child has his for 7 weeks before it fell off. And I used cloth diapers for him so I was changing him (and cleaning the cord) very often.

With my last baby, I had learned about using goldenseal root and oregon grape root. Both were powdered. I would sprinkle some of this on to the cord stump at every diaper change. The goldenseal is strong and didn't smell the best. It also can stain clothing. BUT that baby's cord stump dried up and fell off when he was 8 days old. I tend to think that turmeric would work the same way, but have no way to try that out.

It was a relief to have that taken care of so quickly and I would recommend herb powder over alcohol to anyone.

~Mama to Many~