Both puppies and babies are a big responsibility. But which is truly tougher to look after – a baby or a baby? Ask any sleep-deprived new parent with a colicky newborn and they’re certain to vote for babies. Ask any first-time puppy owner cleaning poop off the carpet for the third time and they’re likely to vote for puppies.
The truth is that both can be equally challenging and both require a lot of mental and physical preparation. Below are just some of the challenges compared – as well as a few tips on how to make things easier in both cases.
Which is more tiring?
Both puppies and babies can keep parents up at night. However, raising a baby typically leads to a greater amount of sleep deprivation.
Puppies may spend the first few nights howling and may need to be regularly taken out to use the toilet. However, after a few nights, many will stop crying and may be able to hold their bladder longer. A toilet break 4 to 5 hours after your puppy has gone to sleep at night could still be necessary up until 4 months. However, beyond this, most puppies will sleep through the night.
Newborn babies typically sleep for no more than two to four hours at a time before needing to be fed. Once awake, some babies can take an hour or more to settle. This can result in a much more heavily interrupted sleep. Most babies do not start sleeping through the night until at least 6 months, with some still regularly waking up at night for feeds until they are 1 year old.
Both puppies and newborns spend most of the day asleep – it is worth catching up on sleep during the day if you can while they nap. Being able to take night feeds/toilet trips in turns with a partner or other person can also reduce interrupted sleep. It’s typically easier to adopt a wake-up routine with puppies than it is with babies. Check out some of these tips at Todays Parent on how to encourage a sleep schedule with babies.
Which is messier?
Both puppies and babies can create a mess. However, puppies are generally bigger mess-makers.
Babies do poop and puke but this can be contained by making sure diapers are the right fit and by using bibs or muslin blankets while feeding/winding. Once babies start crawling and eating solid food, the mess can intensify. You may be able to reduce food mess by encouraging babies to eat in a high chair or floor seat with a splash mat underneath. Splash mats can also be used under potties when potty training. Make sure to monitor babies once they are crawling and walking and keep objects that can create a mess out of reach (such as drinks, pens or make-up).
Unlike babies that cannot move for the first few months, puppies are mobile from the moment you adopt them. As a result, you need to monitor them more closely. Puppies will instinctively chew on everything around them – out of boredom, frustration or simply to relieve teething discomfort. Fortunately, you can train out these instincts by supplying plenty of chew toys and by encouraging puppies to solely chew these toys instead of your sofa cushions and clothing. Potty training will require the most patience – your puppy will pee and poop in your home, but you can reduce the mess by laying down mats/sheets in mess-prone areas and by regularly taking your puppy outdoors to do their business. Puppy training programs such as Puppy Trained Right are useful for learning training tricks like positive reinforcement and disciplining, which can be used in potty training and when discouraging chewing.
Which needs more attention?
Both puppies and babies demand a lot of attention. However, the type of attention they require differs.
Babies are born helpless and so you need to do everything for them, however you can put them down and not have to worry about them hurting themselves or causing destruction until they start rolling and crawling. You cannot leave babies alone at home, however you can take them with you to most places and you can easily keep an eye on them once they start crawling and walking.
Puppies are immediately mobile and are much more likely to cause chaos/injure themselves if you don’t keep an eye on them. Many need regular playtime to keep them stimulated – otherwise they will act up out of boredom. You can only take puppies outdoors once they have their jabs and are typically limited as to where you can go as many places don’t allow dogs. You can leave puppies alone at home, although ideally this should not be any longer than 2 hours at a time. A benefit of puppies is that they are more independent when it comes to feed them – while you still need to get them their food, you do not have to physically feed it to them as you do with a baby, making the feeding process much faster.
All in all, you need to be more regularly hands-on with babies than you do with puppies. However, you can take babies out with you to more places. To feel less restricted with a baby, it’s worth learning a few tricks on how to multitask with a baby. In order to feel less housebound with a puppy, it’s worth exploring dog-friendly activities and places to go in your area.
Which is more expensive?
Cost is an important factor to consider too. In this instance, it is a tie – both babies and puppies can be expensive.
With puppies, you have to first consider the cost of adoption. This can vary depending on the breed and the breeder that you choose. Food and equipment aren’t too expensive compared to the supplies you need when having a baby, although you may still want to budget for a good quality crate. Vet bills are also a big cost to consider, although they generally aren’t too high in the first few years of a dog’s life – this is a cost that increases as your dog gets older.
The cost of having a baby can vary depending on various factors. Many moms have birth costs covered by Medicaid and are able to rely on hand-me-downs when it comes to baby essentials like strollers and cribs. Other parents can spend huge amounts of money on treatments like IVF and may have no choice but to buy all the equipment themselves. Not all women can or want to breastfeed – formula milk isn’t cheap and the cost of it can add up. Diapers and wipes are not too expensive, but it depends on the brand you opt for.
Both babies and kids get more expensive as they get older, however kids will cost you more. Most Americans spend $5,000 to $20,000 on their dog over the course of their lifetime. The average cost of raising a child up until the age of 18 is meanwhile a whopping $310,605!
Which is harder long-term?
The puppy phase is shorter than the baby phase, and the level of responsibility becomes less much more rapidly. While you usually don’t have to worry about puppies chewing things they shouldn’t by the age of 6 months, kids will only just be starting to put things in their mouths at this age and may continue to do so up until 2 years old. This is something that you do need to consider.
Obviously, kids are much longer-term and should outlive you, whereas you’re more likely to outlive a dog. While this does mean that dogs are less of a commitment, it does mean that you have to be prepared for the loss of a dog – which can be emotionally tough if you’ve raised it from a puppy. A child should always be in your life, but of course you need to raise them right to make sure that they make the right choices – which can provide a lot of pressure compared to raising a dog.