Newborns only feed on breast milk or formula milk, but older babies may feed on cow’s milk or soy and almond milk (plant-based). While cow’s milk is the most common alternative to breast milk, some parents plan to use goat milk for babies.
Goat milk is considered a good replacement for breast milk and cow’s milk and provides several health benefits to the baby. However, before making a choice, you should consider its nutritional content and safety criteria. Also, you should consult a doctor before introducing the milk to your baby.
Read the post to understand the uses of goat milk, its health benefits and side effects, and things to consider before choosing it for your baby.
When Can Babies Have Goat Milk?
Babies can be given goat’s milk if they are one year old or more, although only after consulting with the pediatrician (1), although only after consulting with the pediatrician. Goat milk can be given even if the baby is still breastfeeding. In fact, Ayurveda considers goat milk to be close to breast milk, and can be considered as a replacement.
What Are The Benefits Of Goat Milk To A Baby?
Goat milk provides the following nutritional benefits to an infant:
- Better bioavailability of iron: More than 50% of iron found in goat’s milk is more readily absorbed by the body, compared to 13% from cow’s milk. A baby gets more iron per milliliter of goat’s milk than from cow’s milk (2).
- Goat milk pH is closer to pH of breast milk: Goat milk is alkaline like breast milk, but cow’s milk is acidic. Some experts state that the goat milk’s ideal pH levels make it a better choice for infants, as it also decreases the chances of gastrointestinal infections (3).
- Improves the bone health of anemic infants: A study found that mineral loss in bones due to anemia was improved when the affected individual was given goat milk. Hence, goat milk may be good for infants who are anemic (4).
- Goat milk may have anti-inflammatory properties: Some studies have shown that goat milk has anti-inflammatory properties and helps nurture the “good” bacteria in the intestine. These features can be beneficial in treating inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases like colitis (5).
- Easily digestible: When compared to the protein from cow’s milk, goat milk protein is less dense. The fat found in goat’s milk is composed of short-chain fatty acids that break easily, which means goat milk can be digested faster and better.
How To Choose Goat Milk For A Baby?
The goat milk you choose for babies must be:
- Pasteurized: Choose pasteurized milk, which has been heated and cooled to remove pathogens.
- Fortified: Select goat milk enriched with nutrients, especially vitamin D that is necessary for healthy development of bones and vitamin B9 (folate), which is almost non-existent in natural goat’s milk. Fortified products can help your baby attain his recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of all the vital nutrients.
Prefer packaged goat milk since it is more likely to be pasteurized and fortified than raw goat’s milk sold loose.
Can You Give Goat Milk Formula To A Baby?
Yes. You can give goat milk formula to babies who are old enough to consume natural goat milk. While it is likely that the formula will be fortified with micronutrients, it is good to check the label for details.
How To Make Goat Milk Formula?
Goat milk formula is prepared in the same the usual formula is, by mixing warm water and formula powder. You can also refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the goat milk formula can/packet to know the precise method.
Goat Milk vs. Cow Milk – Which Is Better?
Goat milk contains as many nutrients as cow’s milk does. However, cow milk has slightly more vitamin content compared to goat milk (6). Here is a table comparing the vital nutrient content in 100 g of goat milk and cow milk.
|Nutrient||Cow Milk||Goat Milk|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.02mg||0.048mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.185mg||0.138mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.093mg||0.277mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||5µg||1µg|
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
According to experts, there is not much difference in the nutrient value of cow milk and goat milk. Goat milk can be ideal for infants who do not like the taste of cow milk. If you still prefer goat milk, select milk that is fortified with vital nutrients.
Are There Any Drawbacks Of Giving Goat Milk To An Infant?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not recommend giving goat milk or formula to infants aged less than 12 months as it can cause severe nutrient deficiency and other health complications (7).
Babies older than 12 months seldom have any complications on consuming goat milk. However, experts suggest that goat milk should not be the sole source of nutrition for a toddler. It can be used along with other foods to ensure balanced nutrition (8).
Can A Baby Be Allergic To Goat Milk?
Yes. A baby can be allergic to goat milk (3). Symptoms of goat milk allergy include skin hives, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The baby may also have a swollen face and drowsiness. Avoid goat milk if your baby already has other food allergies. If you see any signs of an allergic reaction, take your baby to a doctor right away.
Can You Give Goat Milk To A Baby Who Is Allergic To Cow Milk?
No. It is best to avoid goat milk if your baby has cow milk allergy or intolerance. Goat milk has more or less the same type of proteins found in cow’s milk. Therefore, babies who are lactose intolerant or allergic to cow’s milk are quite likely to be allergic to goat milk. Some may even display a severe allergic reaction to goat milk (9).
Also, there isn’t sufficient research suggesting that goat milk is safe for infants allergic to cow milk (10).
Can A Baby Have Goat Cheese And Yogurt?
Yes. Babies can have goat cheese and yogurt once they are 12 months old (11). Some goat cheeses are made from unpasteurized milk, which is not recommended for infants. So check the label before purchasing any dairy products for the baby (12).
Is Goat Milk Safe For Babies With Eczema?
Consult a pediatrician before introducing goat milk to a baby with eczema. If the eczema is due to a cow milk allergy, then avoid goat milk. About 90% infants with allergic dermatitis (eczema) due to milk allergy can be allergic to goat milk as well (13).
Can You Use Lactose-free Goat Milk Formula?
Is Goat Milk Good For Babies With Acid Reflux?
Does Goat Milk Help Ease Constipation In Infants?
Research does not prove that goat milk eases constipation in babies. If you suspect that the baby is constipated because of cow milk consumption, switch to goat milk and see if his condition improves.
Is Goat Milk Good For Babies With Colic?
There is no proof to support it. Colic can occur due to gassiness caused by indigestion or an allergic reaction to cow or goat milk. Such infants may benefit from special hypoallergenic formulas containing hydrolyzed cow milk protein instead of goat milk (15).
Some parents intend to provide goat milk for babies other than cow’s milk once they reach one year old. When consumed as part of a well-balanced diet, goat milk can offer babies better iron bioavailability than cow’s milk, improved bone health in anemic infants, several anti-inflammatory properties, and a variety of other advantages. However, it is recommended to avoid drinking raw goat milk because it can be detrimental to babies (16). Instead, fortified goat milk and formula choices should be considered. You may still consider consulting your pediatrician to see if goat milk is safe for your baby.
- Mom Talk: Should I give my baby goat’s milk?
- Y W Park et al.; (1986); Bioavailability of iron in goat milk compared with cow milk fed to anemic rats.
- Ashish Kumar and Ambika Sharma; (2016); Nutritional and medicinal superiority of goat milk over cow milk in infants.
- J Diaz-Castro et al.; (2011); Goat milk during iron repletion improves bone turnover impaired by severe iron deficiency.
- Abdelila Daddaoua et al.; (2004); Goat milk oligosaccharides are anti-inflammatory in rats with hapten-indued colitis.
- Composition and properties of goat’s milk as compared to cow’s milk.
- Cow’s milk and milk alternatives.
- ME Harrison; (2007); Case 2: You look like you’ve seen a goat.
- Frank Pessler and Morris Nejat; (2004); Anaphylactic reaction to goat’s milk in a cow’s milk-allergic infant.
- Federico Lara-Villoslada et al.; (2004); Goat milk is less immunogenic than cow milk in a murine model of atopy.
- Food allergy care.
- Dairy and alternatives in your diet.
- Cow’s milk protein allergy and other food hypersensitivities in infants.
- Comparing infant formulas with human milk.
- Hypoallergenic infant formulas.
- Raw milk dangers: what parents need to know.