Umbilical and Circumcision Care

Umbilical and Circumcision Care Overview

Umbilical and Circumcision Care

Specialists recommend the following guidelines to help you best care for your newborn, including umbilical cord stump and circumcision care.

Umbilical cord stump 

Use the following guidelines for your newborns umbilical cord stump care:
  • The umbilical cord stump will look bluish-purple and have a plastic clamp on it. The clamp will be removed at the hospital before going home. The umbilical stump will fall off in about two or three weeks.
  • Until it falls off, keep the stump clean and dry.
  • Wipe the cord with alcohol and always fold the diaper below the cord.
  • It is normal for there to be a bit of bleeding when the cord falls off.

Watch the umbilical cord area for signs of infection, including:

  • Foul odor
  • Red skin around the stump
  • Yellow fluid coming from the stump
  • Fever: Rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher

If you think the umbilical cord stump is infected, call your physician or nurse practitioner.


Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. This procedure is conducted while the baby is in the hospital. A consent form must be signed before the circumcision. After the circumcision, your baby will be in pain for a few hours and will need some extra cuddling.

Use the following guidelines to care for your baby after the circumcision:

  • After the circumcision, the physician will place a small amount of petroleum jelly on your baby's penis and wrap a thin strip of gauze over the wound
  • Keep this area clean and dry and at each diaper change, apply petroleum jelly and a clean gauze pad. Continue this care until the discharge stops and the redness fades away in about two to three days
  • The penis usually heals in five to seven days. During this time, you may gently wash the penis with warm water and pat dry. A tub bath should be avoided until the penis has healed and the umbilical cord has fallen off

Call your baby's physician, nurse practitioner or the emergency room if any of the following happens:

  • There's heavy, bright-red bleeding that cannot be stopped by pressing on the bleeding area
  • The baby has not had a wet diaper by eight to 10 hours after the circumcision
  • The penis shows signs of infection: swelling, increased redness or foul-smelling discharge
  • Rectal temperature is over 100.4 degrees F. Check the temperature if he has lost his appetite, looks redder than usual, has very warm skin, is less active or has many watery bowel movements

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital offers care for children at all ages and stages—from birth through 18 years old. Whether your infant needs the advanced expertise of our Level II+ Special Care Nursery, your child needs a wellness checkup and immunizations, or one of your children needs care for an illness, emergency or ongoing medical condition—you’ll find the medical and surgical resources to meet your family’s needs.

We have more than 60 physicians on staff who specialize in pediatrics, along with a dedicated team of pediatric nurses—all committed to providing the very best care for your children. In addition, we can refer children who need more advanced care to pediatric specialists who are leaders in their fields. Our affiliated pediatricians can address most children’s needs at convenient locations throughout Lake and Cook counties.

We’ve also partnered with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, one of the nation’s top-ranked children’s hospitals, to provide the highest quality care for children. Our hospitalists from Lurie Children’s are available on-site at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest, 24 hours a day, every day of the year to care for special need situations or provide expert consultations.

The CDH Pediatric Emergency Department is IDPH Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics (EDAP) and is designated by the State of Illinois as a Level II Trauma Center.

Legal Information

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital is a collaborative program between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Lurie Children's and its affiliated physician groups. The physicians participating in this program are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital.


The physicians who practice at the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. These physicians have selected our facilities as the place where they want to treat and care for their private patients.