Nfld. & Labrador

Bundles of joy: The St. John's Baby Clothes Library is now open, chock full of donations

A new baby clothes library has opened its doors in St. John’s, and it’s already filled to capacity with donations.

The library has gathered 72 wardrobes, 58 winter outerwear items

Lauren Smee's child, Tamsin, shows off some of the boots that you can find at the St. John's Baby Clothes Library. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

A new library opened its doors in St. John's last weekend — but you won't find any books there. 

The St. John's Baby Clothes Library is handing out bundles of infant clothes and winter outerwear for six-month loan periods, for a membership fee of $10 a year.

"Children are very expensive, with child-care costs, clothing costs, with extra food costs.… It's really expensive," said co-founder Heather Power.

The service, located in the St. John's Tool Library on Empire Avenue, allows its members to borrow hand-sewn bags filled with clothing for specific age groups.

Besides being easier on the wallet, Power said, the library is good for the environment.

"North Americans send 10 million tonnes of textile waste to landfills every year. Reusing clothing and reusing outerwear is preventing it from being sent into the landfill."

Heather Power attends the front desk of the baby clothes library, which she co-founded. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Late one night while feeding her baby. Power read about a baby clothes library in the United Kingdom and was inspired to recreate the idea on home soil. She asked Ian Froude, her city councillor and founder of the tool library, if he thought a baby clothes library would be successful in St. John's.

She said Froude responded by offering to share his space, membership system and inventory system.

"The response from the tool library and Ian Froude was resounding, and that's how it started," she said.

Donation storage already full

Power shows the contents of a girl's clothing bundle available at the library. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Clothing donations have been so steady that the library's storage is full. They're asking for financial contributions instead until they can find more room for the baby apparel.

Winter jackets are available for library members. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

They currently have 72 bundles of clothes, each containing a full wardrobe for infants, including sleepers, pants, onesies, sweaters and dresses. They also have 58 items of winter outerwear.

"Sleepers are expensive. Outfits are expensive. So there can be a significant financial saving from coming to make use of the library," said Power, who estimated the average cost of one of the library's bundles would be $350 to buy new.

They grow up so fast

Lauren Smee is a mother and member of the St. John's Baby Clothes Library. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Lauren Smee was at the library's opening to sign up for its services with her daughter, Tamsin.

She says her baby grows so quickly that buying new clothing doesn't make financial sense.

"It seems like it's totally unnecessary for kids to wear new clothes all the time," she said. 

"The first six months, they grow so much. You can't even fathom it before you have a baby, how fast they grow out of things."

She said she'd prefer to borrow bundles from the library.

"You can keep it for six months and bring it back and exchange it for the next size, which is perfect because that's all you need it for anyway — one season or one size before they grow out of it."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador.

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