Are DIY Crochet Umbilical Cord Ties Safe For Babies?


Daisy crochet umbilical cord ties sold on Etsy by Artisan Alley

News reports have been warning against the use of DIY umbilical cord ties, including crochet cord ties, because of the possible risk of infection to the baby. However, midwives and others say that crochet and knit umbilical ties can be safe and provide an eco-friendly, baby-skin-friendly alternative to the plastic clamps typically used in hospitals.


Crochet peacock umbilical cord tie sold on Etsy by BallaratBirthSupport

What Are Crochet Umbilical Cord Ties?

A baby’s umbilical cord needs to be tied off with a clamp or cord that stays on the baby for approximately one week. Most hospitals use plastic clamps. However, there has been a trend in recent years towards umbilical cord tie alternatives including DIY fabric and yarn cord ties. One cord is tied near mama, one closer to baby and the cord is cut between the two ties, with the latter remaining on the cord.


Crochet rainbow umbilical cord tie sold on Etsy by PeachTreeCrochetCo

Why Choose DIY Umbilical Cord Ties?

There are several reasons that mothers may opt for a soft, fabric alternative to the plastic clamps. These reasons include:

  • The plastic clamps are very bulky. They can be uncomfortable for baby and for breast-feeding mamas. Some moms have also said that it’s easier to change diapers with simple cords than with the clamps.
  • Knit, crochet or fabric cord ties offer an eco-friendly alternative to plastic. In addition to the concerns about the earth, some parents don’t want plastic on their baby at such a young age because of related health concerns.
  • Mamas who love the handmade DIY lifestyle may want to welcome baby into the world in this way from the very first breath. For some, this is very symbolic as a gift for baby from mom. In other instances, an important relative, such as grandmother or godmother, might make and gift this first special item.
  • DIY cord ties are cute. They are decorative and personalized and can be baby’s first accessory. Fashion isn’t the reason most moms choose DIY cords but it’s an added bonus for baby’s first photos.


Crochet heart umbilical cord ties sold on Etsy by ClariCraft

Emma, the blogger at natural parenting blog Part of Me, shared her DIY umbilical cord ties tutorial. In this post, she also shares her story about why she chose to use this option, saying in part,

“The result was much more attractive than the plastic clips that most of us are used to. It looked quite pretty, more personalised and definitely didn’t get in the way like plastic ones do when you’re trying to clean baby and fasten a nappy around it. It must have been more comfortable for baby too.”


Rainbow crochet umbilical cord tie sold on Etsy by CosmicMouse

Are DIY Umbilical Cord Clamps Safe and Sterile?

Members of the medical community have come out recently discouraging moms from using handmade umbilical cord ties. The main reason cited is the potential for infection from these ties. Emma addresses this issue in part in her article on Part of Me, writing,

When I’d finished making them, I boiled them for a few minutes and then put in a sandwich bag in the freezer until it was time to use them. This process sterilises them.” An additional blog comment there elaborates on this.

In an article on the issue from The Courier-Mail, writer Jackie Sinnerton quotes an Australian doctor as saying,

“My concern with a crocheted or knitted wool device is the potential for infection as they can easily get wet as they become covered in faeces and urine.”

However, she also includes a balanced response from midwife Emma Nolan who “believes infection is unlikely as most parents keep the decorative part outside of the nappy.” The practice of  using DIY cord ties is particularly common among those who use midwives, with this article citing that “Private midwives are reporting 80 per cent of women are bringing their own DIY cord clamps to the birth and babies will usually wear them for a week or until the cord stump is fully healed.


Crochet heart umbilical cord ties by PeachtreeCrochetCo on Etsy

How to Crochet Umbilical Cord Ties

Docmaggoo writing in the Cloth Nappy Tree forum suggests one easy option for making crochet umbilical cord ties. You basically make a single crochet chain using worsted weight cotton yarn. The length suggested in various forums is approximately 8″ although this varies. This would be a really simple version but you could also add some small appliqués to make a more decorative crochet cord tie, as seen in some of the examples throughout this article, which are all finished items sold on Etsy. The sellers featured here also offer many other styles and designs.

The Bodywise Birthwise Store sells crochet heart umbilical cord ties by Peachtree Crochet Co. and on their page it also says,  “Each tie has been crocheted using a very small hook. This helps keep the designs small but also the stitches tight, to ensure it’s strong enough to withstand being tied in a knot.”


Crochet ties for umbilical cords from ArtisanAlley on Etsy


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

4 thoughts on “Are DIY Crochet Umbilical Cord Ties Safe For Babies?”

  1. What a load of baloney!!!
    Plastic clamps aren’t sterile anyway, the moment they are exposed to air and touched by the midwives!
    Neither is the nappy, that touches the baby 24/7, or their clothes, or anything else in their environment!
    Nothing is!
    Besides that, the tie ties off the stump, not touches the raw end!
    When a baby poos, you’d be hard pressed to get it all the way up to the umbilicus, which is usually outside of the nappy zone anyway!

    I used an umbilical tie on my 4th baby and it was WAY better than those clumsy plastic clamps which dig into the baby and get in the way.
    The cord sealed off beautifully and came away perfectly within 3 DAYS which was record time for any of my newborns!
    The midwives thought it was a wonderful thing to use.
    The only way it could not be tight enough, would be sheer incompetance, which caqn happen with a plastic clamp too…and just a though, before ugly plastic clamps were invented, what do you think people used to tie off a cord??? hmm…

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