Introduction to the Waltham Forest Cloth Nappy Library

Cloth nappy libraries are a great way to find out more about real nappies before committing to buying a set of your own. In Waltham Forest we are lucky to have the wonderful Clair Wright running the local cloth nappy library because she is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful without being pushy or judgemental if a parent decides to opt for disposable nappies, for Clair it's about educating parents to make an informed decision based on what is right for them and their families.

We were so happy when Clair agreed to pop in and talk to our Kindred Meets Mums about what it means to run the Waltham Forest Cloth Nappy Library. Personally, as Clair was talking, I realised that I had a very dated view of reusable nappies - I was remembering photos of me as a baby wearing a giant white terry cloth held together with a large safety pin. A stark contrast to the funky and adaptable options being passed around the room. There are four main types of reusable nappies on the market – all-in-ones, all in twos, pockets and two-parters (shaped or flat nappies (prefolds/terries) and waterproof wrap) and they all seem to mirror the functionality and convenience of disposables.

Cloth nappies consist of an absorbent layer, a waterproof layer, and a disposable or washable liner to capture the solids and keep your baby dry. Modern designs make using, washing and drying easy. Usually, reusable nappies are cotton, organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, microfibre or wool.

The library offers group demo sessions where they meet with you to look at and talk about all the different types of nappies, how to use them and what might suit your baby. You will then have the opportunity to borrow some nappies to try if you wish. They have a wide range available including trial kits in newborn/small and birth to potty sizes for older babies and toddlers. Alternatively, you can also borrow individual nappies if you want to try a nappy before buying.

Cloth vs. disposables, what are some of the arguments for and against?


Yes, it's fair to say that there will be a laundry overhead when using cloth nappies, but once you have established a routine you should find that it's fairly straightforward. It's true that the idea of disposable seems to be more convenient as you can throw them straight into the bin, however if you are using cloth nappies, you won't ever run out and have to make a quick dash to the shop for replacements!
With cloth nappies you can also add inserts to vary the level of absorbance - great for long car journeys! Some parent also claim that they get far fewer poo leaks with cloth nappies, no more up-the-back poos to contend with!


The cost of using disposable nappies is said to be somewhere in the region of £1000-£2000 per child depending on whether you use brand name, biodegradable and how long until your child is potty trained.

There is an upfront cost with using cloth nappies and depending on the brand and type you go for, you could spend between £100-£400 setting yourself up. There is a thriving second hand market for cloth nappies and you can buy an almost new set for a fraction of the price on local marketplace sites and eBay.

Did you know that parents living in Waltham Forest can receive a voucher worth £54.15 which can be used to buy real nappies for home washing or to use a nappy laundering service? You can apply for it at the Real Nappies for London website.


Real Nappies for London is committed to helping reduce disposable nappy waste in London, they claim that a baby in single-use nappies produces approximately 7kg of nappy waste per week. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimated in 2008 that the average baby wearing nappies until 2.5 years old generates 874 kg of nappy waste, nearly a tonne.

Using cloth nappies considerably reduces the amount of waste going to landfill or incineration. Yes there is an increased negative impact to the environment by the additional laundry, however, on balance it's still a much more eco-friendly option, especially if you opt to dry on the washing line (the sun is the BEST stain remover don't you know?!).

For more information, please reach out to Clair on Or visit one of the Cloth Nappy Library events:  Monthly Sunday meets from 10.30am-12.30pm with the East London Sling Library at KukooLaLa Cafe, Leyton Jubilee Park, Leyton, E10 7BL. Please check facebook to confirm dates.