In no particular order:
- Store brand is your best bet for baby basics. Diapers, baby wash, wipes, etc. One exception - the smallest size (Newborn) is not available in store brand so you'll need to buy Pampers for that mini size.
- Try the different stores' baby products to see what you like. We are huge fans of Teddy's Choice (Loblaw/No Frill/SuperCentre/Zehrs) diapers, at under $8.00 a pack compared to at least $13.00 for brand names. Everything store-brand we've bought at PharmaPlus (Rexall brand baby wash, wipes, even soothers) has been great and a huge savings over brand name products. So far, the only store-brand disappointment has been Sobeys' wipes, which are a bit rough in my opinion. But shop around and figure out what you like, or more importantly, what your baby likes.
- When diapering a baby boy, pull the front of the diaper up a tiny bit higher than level with the back. Boys saturate their diapers up front (how's that for diplomatic?) so you can avoid leaks by tweaking the waist-band height.
- Don't waste your money on a changing table. Use a bureau-top or a bathroom counter. Or the kitchen table, the couch, your bed...you name it, just make sure you never leave the baby un-attended. (my legal disclaimer!)
- My friend Sarah, who makes amazing baby quilts and is an amazing mom, gave me a great tip yesterday. Use an exercise ball to sit on and bounce/rock baby to sleep. I tried this yesterday and not only does it save your back and arms, but you can incorporate a little core muscle strength training while you're at it, if you want.
- Go "gently used" for baby and kids' clothes. Once Upon A Child and Value Village have quality brand-name gear for a couple bucks an item. The money saved on clothes alone can nicely fund a college education account.
- Baby and kids' clothing sizes are weird and unpredictable. My experience has been that the size listed on baby gear is the "best before date". For example, a size "3-month" sleeper will be too small by the time baby hits 3 months. Older kids' stuff (size 3 and up) tends to be "if your kid is 3 years old, they will most likely be wearing size 3".)
- Most importantly, the sleep deprivation phase is temporary! Take it easy, enjoy your little one, and sleep whenever you get the chance.