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Melissa Leong | January 30, 2015 1:43 PM ET
More from Melissa Leong | @lisleong
New parenthood brings so many surprises. How can something so little (a baby) make so much noise and take up so much time and money?

The Fraser Institute estimates that it costs up to $4,500 a year to raise a child, if childcare isn’t a factor. Some other estimates in Canada and the U.S. put it closer to $15,000.

“Especially first-time parents, they’re really excited and they want to do everything perfectly,” says Kerry Taylor, a consumer expert and founder of finance site Squawkfox.com. “People spend $1,000 on a crib. I say, ‘That’s the most expensive piece of furniture your kid will ever chew on.’”

Whether it’s spending on nursery furnishings or a miniature wardrobe, a TD Canada Trust survey says 46% of Canadians would be comfortable taking on debt to finance their new family.

In an effort to help you avoid attending to both a newborn and new debt, we asked financially-savvy parents to share the best ways to save money in that all-consuming and all-important first year (with a couple of hints to the future).

85/15

“I went by the 85/15 rule. I bought 85% used and 15% new… And you can save $1,700 a year per kid with cloth diapering.” — Kerry Taylor, blogger at Squawkfox.com, and mother of a 3-year-old daughter

Homemade wipes

“Homemade wipes are great. Use a plastic container and soak paper towel with two tablespoons of baby wash, one tablespoon of olive oil or baby oil, any essential oils and two and a half cups of water.” — Eva Webster, manager of BargainMoose.ca, mother of three boys

Best-kept secret

“One big secret no one wants you to know about baby clothes: the length between the sizes changes, but the width doesn’t change too much at all between six months and two years! To capitalize on this, buy onesie snap extenders that add extra length, and months, to your baby’s wardrobe.” — Sandra Grahame, CEO of SmartCookies.com and creator of The Lift, a digital course for new and expecting parents, and mother of two

Loyalty pays

“Sign up to a loyalty club for diapers, etc. With Pampers Rewards, you get rewards like Air Miles and coupons emailed [to you]. And price-match where you can on all baby essentials using apps like Flipp.” — Hollie Pollard of CommonCentsMom.com

Freebies galore

“It is incredible how many free resources are available for moms and babies. Even creating a simple registry on Amazon, Sears or Toys R Us gives you a 10% discount and diaper deals. Look online for lists of companies providing freebies such as formula, change pads, prenatal vitamins, baby-proofing kit.” —Steven Zussino, co-founder of GroceryAlerts.ca and father of two

Social media shoutout

“Do a shout-out on social media [for] what friends and family would like to get rid of, because believe me, there is nothing a mom with older kids likes better than to get rid of what she no longer needs to someone who needs it. I just got rid of a booster seat, crib bedding, toys and five bags of clothing to various friends who have younger kids.” — Eva Webster

Toys made new

“Put away toys once in a while so your child doesn’t get bored of them. When you bring them out again, they are like new.” — Margarita Deviakovitch, blogger for BargainMoose.ca, mother of an eight-month-old girl

Maximize benefits

“Maximize your maternity benefits. Make an appointment to talk with your HR rep and your insurance provider to understand exactly what’s covered under your policy. Smart Cookie Katie in Vancouver was able to do post-natal pilates after her son was born with the cost covered under her insurance plan. Another Smart Cookie was able to get massages every week during her pregnancy. “I was able to get a top-of-the-line breast pump completely covered.” — Sandra Grahame

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Barbara Moore

I assist families, professionals and businesses with their insurance and financial planning needs.  Call or send me an e-mail to learn more about: - Life insurance - Critical illness coverage - RESPs - Benefits I look forward to meeting with you!

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