What Causes an Outie Belly Button in Babies?

A baby's belly button is a captivating feature of their anatomy – and much like the little ones, belly buttons are distinctive and varied. You might have observed that your baby has either an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie belly button’. In this piece, we shall delve into the nature of an outie belly button, the cause of outie belly buttons, how to look after an outie belly button, and the appropriate time to reach out to your GP.

What’s an Outie Belly Button?

Let's begin by exploring the formation of belly buttons. The belly button – also known as the navel or umbilicus – is created at the point where the umbilical cord was previously connected. After birth, the cord is severed and taken away, leaving only a tiny stump behind, which typically dries up and drops off after around three weeks. As the area where the cord was heals on your baby's belly, the belly button comes into being.

An outie belly button is an informal, non-scientific term referring to a navel that protrudes outward, rather than being concave or inward-facing, called an innie belly button. So if your newborn belly button is sticking out, you can call your little one's adorable little belly button an outie.

Innie versus Outie Belly Button: What Determines the Difference?

The primary difference between an innie and an outie belly button lies in the way the umbilical cord heals and the appearance of the navel after the cord stump falls off. An innie belly button is concave, with the surrounding skin folding inward, while an outie belly button protrudes outward.

Remember, though outie belly buttons may be less common than innies, they’re just as cute and are nothing to be concerned about. In our section below, you can find more information on other conditions that may be mistaken for an outie belly button.

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What Causes an Outie Belly Button?

As mentioned above, a belly button is formed where the umbilical cord once was, after the stump falls off and the area heals. But why do some people have outies and others do not? It’s unclear exactly what causes an outie belly button, but it may have to do with the way the umbilical cord heals and detaches from your baby's belly button.

Although we've mentioned that an outie belly button is typically a natural occurrence, in some cases, it may be a result of certain medical conditions. An outie could form because of an umbilical hernia or an umbilical granuloma, generally harmless conditions but that should be looked into by your little one's GP.

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia in babies is a condition in which part of the intestine or fatty tissue bulges through a weak spot near the belly button (potentially causing the belly button to protrude). This hernia may look like a swelling or bulge and may be most evident when your little one cries or coughs. Most umbilical hernias close on their own within the first year or by the age of three. If you suspect your baby's belly button has an umbilical hernia or if they seem to be in pain, consult their GP for proper evaluation and management.

Umbilical Granuloma

An umbilical granuloma is a small, moist, red lump that can form on a baby's belly button after the umbilical cord stump falls off. It's a harmless overgrowth of scar tissue and usually occurs in the first few weeks after birth. If you notice your baby has an umbilical granuloma talk to your GP about treatment options, such as salt treatment that is easily performed at home. If it persists or causes any issues, consult your baby's GP.

Can an Outie Belly Button Become an Innie?

Parents often have questions about outie belly buttons, including can an outie belly button be fixed, and how to make an outie belly button go in naturally. A key point to remember is that each belly button is unique and that there isn’t just one type. And, in most cases, an outie belly button will not change into an innie as the child grows, and there's no medical need for it to do so.

However, if the outie belly button is due to an umbilical hernia, it may resolve on its own within the first few years of your child's life. If you have any questions or concerns about your baby's belly button, contact your baby's GP. Don't try to do anything on your own to try to make the umbilical hernia close or to change the appearance of your little one's belly button, as this will not help and may cause discomfort in your baby.


Newborn Care
Taking Care of Your Baby’s Umbilical Cord

How to Care for Your Baby's Belly Button

Whether your little one has a tiny innie or outie belly button, you'll want to know how to care for it and keep it clean.

  • Provide sponge baths initially. Use water (and refrain from using alcohol) to delicately cleanse the region while you first bathe your newborn. A sponge bath (topping and tailing) is usually a preferred option in the first few weeks.

  • After the stump falls off, continue to keep the belly button area clean and dry until it heals – which may take a few days. Exposing it to air helps the healing process.

  • Once the stump is gone and the cord area heals, you can give your baby's belly button a regular bath in a tub. After you gently clean the belly button, dry it with a soft towel to avoid infections.

  • Keep an eye out for bleeding. Your child’s belly button might bleed a little when the tump falls off. A few drops of blood is normal. If it continues to bleed, contact your GP.

Read our helpful article for more information on how to care for your newborn’s umbilical cord.

When to Contact Your Doctor

As we mentioned above, an outie belly button is most often no cause for concern. However, if you observe any of the following, contact your baby's doctor.

  • Persistent bleeding following the detachment of the umbilical stump.

  • Signs of infection in the area, such as yellow discharge, a foul smell, or redness and swelling around your baby’s belly button.

  • Signs of an umbilical hernia.

  • Indicators of an Umbilical Granuloma.


Yes, it's perfectly okay to have an outie belly button. Both ‘innie’ and ‘outie’ belly buttons are normal variations of a belly button's appearance. An outie belly button is typically the result of how the umbilical cord was attached and how it healed after birth, and it doesn't usually indicate any health issues.

The Bottom Line

Outie belly buttons in babies are a normal variation in appearance and usually do not require any special care. By keeping the area clean and dry and watching for any signs of infection or discomfort, you can ensure your baby's belly button remains healthy and simply adorable.

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How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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