Baby in reusable nappy

Try reusable nappies before you buy

While switching to reusable nappies can save families up to £1,000 in the long term, there is no denying the upfront cost at the start of your sustainable journey.

With a growing range of brands and styles now on the market, it can feel overwhelming knowing what is going to best suit you and your baby.

Step forward – nappy libraries!

While there has been an established branch in Waltham Forest for the past decade, north Londoners now have even more choice thanks to Aki MacFarlane.

The mum-of-two has just launched the Barnet Nappy Library and EC Hub.

“It actually started as a joke because I have quite a collection! But I’m just not ready to part with the nappies my girls have used and I’m not ready to not be in the nappy world,” she explained.

Customers can pick from a selection of packs designed to suit newborns, babies and toddlers, and hire them for up to two months.

Aki’s own collection has been topped up with generous donations or purchases she has made to fill in some gaps.

“Most people would use a nappy library as a taster and to trial different options out before committing to them,” she said.

“It can save you money, but I also want to provide a point of advice and discussion because a lot of people don’t know anyone else in real life who uses reusable nappies.

“I know it can be overwhelming. I remember doing my first online search and there is so much out there. I’m always happy to help filter out the nonsense.”

The advice Aki offers includes tips on how to spend the £70 Real Nappies for London voucher to get best value for money or suit your personal circumstances. The voucher is available to all north London parents with a baby under 18 months, and can be redeemed against a pack of reusable nappies or a washable nappy laundry service.

She added: “I hadn’t grasped that different families would have different preferences. For example, we realised we were prepared to pay more money for the convenience you get with all-in-one styles, which I hadn’t appreciated before my first baby was born. Saving money is a bonus, but it isn’t the primary reason we use reusable nappies.”

Having had her first daughter during lockdown, Aki relied on online forums for her support network.

She now wants to create a safe space for other Barnet parents to meet up in person.

Aki said: “Having spoken about reusable nappies and being really open, I have two friends who now want to try them too. That’s been so lovely.

“I’m arranging regular meet-ups for the community where like-minded parents and caregivers can come together. The plan is to start off small and go from there.”

With the average baby getting through 4,000 single-use nappies before they are potty trained, they contribute significantly to the climate crisis. In fact, using just one reusable nappy in place of a disposable every day could save a staggering 912 nappies from going to waste.

Another way to cut down on nappy usage is elimination communication, in which parents use signals, timings or cues to catch urine or poo with a mini potty or over the toilet or sink. This can enable your baby to come out of nappies at an earlier age.

Aki can also give advice on this technique, and hire out EC-friendly nappies, potties and clothing. For anyone considering giving it a go, her message is that there is no need to feel alone.

“I find I’m the weird one with the potty at baby groups. People generally comment in a polite way, but I find it a little bit sad that people think I’m a ‘supermum’ when anyone can do what I do – they just don’t know or think about it!” Aki added.

Aki MacFarlane


4 March 2024