What Causes an Outie Belly Button?

Does your baby have an outie belly button? Learn more about what causes this rare (and totally harmless) physical characteristic.

Does your baby have an outie belly button? Learn more about what causes this rare (and totally harmless) physical characteristic.

Did you know that there’s a theory called omphilomancy that says the shape of your belly button can determine what kind of personality traits you possess—and even how long you’ll live?! As it turns out, this theory has little standing in science, but we do know there are two distinct kinds of belly buttons: innies and outies.

It’s something you might not give much thought to until you’re expecting a baby. But then, suddenly, you might stop to consider a wide range of questions like: what causes an outie belly button and is an outie belly button a cause for concern?

Let’s break it all down:

What Causes an Outie Belly Button?

Whether baby has an innie or an outie belly button is, instead, based on:

Scar tissue

The belly button is just scar tissue and how it heals can affect how it looks. There’s nothing you can do about this—it’s just the way different bodies heal. Think about it this way: If you cut yourself, sometimes it scars—and sometimes it doesn’t. There’s really no explaining it.

Umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia occurs when the opening in the abdominal wall that allows the umbilical cord to reach the outside of the body doesn’t close completely. Typically this happens in the first few days after birth, but sometimes the hole doesn’t close for much longer. Intestines can then bulge out in the weak spot around the navel.

This is most common in premature or low birth weight infants, as well as African Americans, according to Cincinnati Children’s.

Usually, an umbilical hernia will resolve itself by the age of 4 or 5. If not, your doctor may want to surgically repair the hernia.

Umbilical granuloma

This is a small piece of tissue (a red or pink lump) that grows inside the belly button, making it protrude.

This condition usually resolves itself in a couple of weeks after birth. However, a granuloma can become infected, so it’s important to keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t resolve itself, your doctor may recommend applying some salt to help it along, or she may want to remove it with silver nitrate in the office.

Three things that DO NOT cause an outie belly button

You might have heard that the shape of the belly button depends on how the cord was cut at birth. This is a myth. Outie belly buttons are not caused by:

Cutting the cord

Your partner can breathe easy. No matter who cuts the cord—you, your healthcare provider, or your partner—the technique (or lack of) has nothing to do with the shape of baby’s belly button.

Delayed cord clamping

And don’t fret if you want to wait to snip the cord (find out why delayed cord clamping is so beneficial). Delayed cord clamping will not affect the shape of your baby’s navel.

Improper cord care

An outie belly button is also not a result of improper cord care—even if the umbilical cord stump gets infected during the healing process.

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How Common is an Outie Belly Button?

According to a North Carolina University survey, only 4 percent of participants reported having an outie belly button. Bottom line: Outie belly buttons are much less common than innies.

Can You Fix an Outie Belly Button?

There’s not usually any reason to fix a protruding navel (aside from an umbilical hernia that doesn’t heal).

If you notice redness or discharge coming from the area, this could be a sign of infection, so you should consult your pediatrician. But if everything is normal, consider an outie a unique trait that contributes to making your child (or you) who they are. It’s nothing to worry about, and there is nothing you need to do to “correct” it.

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

1 Comment

  1. Nice write up! You’re doing a Great job here Genevieve, you know what? I read a lot of parenting blog post and I’ve read ones similar to this, but I’ve never seen written this way, very ingenious☺️


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