A: While most umbilical cords fall off within three weeks, anything inside of six weeks can be considered normal, provided there's no sign that the stump is infected (symptoms include thick, red skin around the base of the cord and yellowish pus). You can help the umbilical stump fall off faster by washing it gently with water during diaper changes and keeping it exposed to the air to dry it out (you may need to fold your baby's diaper down in front). If the cord still has not come off after six weeks, let your pediatrician know. He or she may decide to apply a chemical called silver nitrate to the area to dry it up faster. All umbilical stumps will eventually fall off, so just be patient.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.