The umbilical cord connects the baby to the mother's placenta. During fetal development in the womb, the umbilical cord is the lifeline to the baby supplying nutrients. After birth, the cord is clamped and cut. Eventually between 1 to 3 weeks the cord will become dry and will naturally fall off. During the time the cord is healing it should be kept as clean and as dry as possible.
Review Date 10/2/2019
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.