Q: My seven-week-old’s belly button pops out when he cries or strains. It goes down when he stops, but it never completely stops protruding. Should I get it checked out?
A: Your baby might have an umbilical hernia, caused by a gap in the abdominal muscle wall, that protrudes when he cries or pushes his abdominal muscles. It’s extremely common, especially in premature babies, and frequently disappears on its own by 18 months of age. Point it out to his doctor at your next visit and, in the meantime, you can gently push it back in occasionally.Don’t follow old advice to put a coin or bandage on it as this can sometimes cause infection or, if the bandage is too tight, breathing problems. Very rarely, the area will become hard and red, and seem painful; if that happens, some intestinal material may be stuck and a trip to the hospital is necessary. Hernias that don’t close may require minor surgery.