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Nappy libraries - the unsung heroes of the reusable nappy world

We have always been supportive of Nappy Libraries at Baba+Boo.  Following a conversation with Stockport Nappy Library, we asked Helen, one of their volunteers, if she would write a guest blog to tell us a bit more...

Having had my first-ever baby in the middle of a global pandemic, there were lots of things closed off to me that “other mums” previously had at their fingertips. Support groups, baby classes, play dates, clinics, coffee & cake - the list goes on… and access to a nappy library appeared to be another one.

I always had it in my head that I’d try cloth nappies and was all ready to go with my reusable wipes from the get-go. But nappies – where do you start? That’s an entirely different ball game, isn’t it? And with all the abbreviations and ‘nappy lingo’ the more I researched the more overwhelming it became!

Thankfully, there were a couple of parents in my NCT group who had also decided to experiment with cloth, so I turned to them for advice. But what if I hadn’t had them around? Would I be using cloth today or still wincing every time I put the bins out?

Not having access to so many services during that first year, really was the driving force behind volunteering at Stockport Cloth Nappy Library. Once I discovered it existed, I couldn’t get involved quick enough. I wanted to help however I could and spread the word about cloth!

I got lucky with the nappies I purchased during lockdown and have stuck with the first brand I ever tried (happy coincidence – it’s Baba+Boo). But wouldn’t it have been nice to be able to try different types of nappies? Different brands? Even now, I am reluctant to move away from Baba+Boo for fear of wasting money on a brand that doesn’t work with my little one – no matter how gorgeous the print might be. And for me, that is why nappy libraries are the unsung heroes of the cloth nappy world.

Nappy libraries allow clients absolute freedom to experiment, to really understand nappies, to have the confidence to chop and change as their little one grows and as they start to out-pee even the most resilient of booster combos!

Stockport Cloth Nappy Library has just three volunteers! There’s Rebecca, who runs the library and has been involved since the beginning, there’s me - Helen, and Kate - we recently came onboard to lend a hand with hiring kits, raise funds to buy more kits and raise awareness about what the library does and why it’s so great!

For Rebecca, the first time she heard about cloth nappies was at her antenatal classes and being aware of environmental issues it felt like something she “should” be interested in. “I saw a few friends using cloth on their babies and we decided to hire a kit when our son was 10-weeks-old,” she says. “Throughout the hire I was on the fence and my husband really was concerned about the “extra burden” of washing. But, as soon as the kit was returned, we really missed the nappies, and something clicked; we had to buy our own.

“A few other friends were also interested and so I started doing show and tells. Then, someone I knew applied for funding to start a library locally and I got involved. It’s very rewarding running a library – helping others go from unsure but keen, to cloth nappy pros is great to be part of. I couldn’t imagine not using cloth now.”

For Kate, after many months of deliberating and researching about cloth nappies she sourced a few and gradually got into the swing of things. “At the time, I had three little ones in cloth nappies, and I really liked how it gave our family a sense of self sufficiency and dramatically reduced our black bin load,” she says. “I then just wished I had done it sooner! The biggest barrier for me was just not knowing where to start and so I decided to volunteer for the library to help encourage other parents to try cloth and support them along the way. Using reusable nappies has also inspired us as a family to be more environmentally aware and branch out into other more sustainable products throughout our home.”

Stockport Cloth Nappy Library currently hires to anyone within the Greater Manchester area and has both newborn and birth-to-potty kits available as well as a long-term hire kit, to find out more you can find them on Facebook and Instagram.

https://www.facebook.com/clothnappylibrarystockport

Instagram: @stockportclothbums

Find your nearest nappy library at http://www.uknappynetwork.org/

Helen's Top 5 Tips for Running a Library

  1. Firstly, read the guidance on the UK Nappy Network’s website about starting a library. Get in contact with your council to see if there is any funding you can apply for, that is how Stockport Cloth Nappy Library started.

  2. Build up slowly kit by kit. This gives you time to get used to your new systems and processing kits.

  3. Put all your systems online so everyone involved can access them. We have our schedule, finances and hire agreement forms all online.

  4. Get others involved. Running a library as a team is much more enjoyable and everyone brings different skills to the table.

  5. On the rare occasions that all the kits you hold come back at the same time ensure you have the space to store them!


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