Umbilical Hernia

Umbilical (or belly button) hernias are a soft lump at the belly button that may protrude further when your baby cries. Umbilical hernias are very common in babies. They are due to a small opening in the abdominal wall which will usually close by the time your child is 5 years old. Unlike hernias in the groin, they rarely cause any problems in childhood and can be left alone to close naturally. They can be pushed in easily and do not cause any discomfort to the baby. In the past people felt it might be helpful to put a strap over the hernia, but this is not necessary.


Very rarely, bowel may become trapped in the hernia. In this case, the hernia will become firm and you won’t be able to push it in. The baby will be distressed and the hernia may appear red or purple. Please see your doctor urgently if this happens.


If the hernia has not disappeared by the time your child is three to five years old, a Paediatric Surgeon can do a small operation to close it and avoid problems in adulthood.