What Are the Benefits of Goat's Milk forBabies?
Some mothers find that their children don't react well to cow's milk and are looking for alternatives. There are multiple benefits in goat's milk for babies, say pediatricians like Dr. William Sears and Dr. Alan Greene. It has less lactose and fewer allergens than cow's milk, is easier on children's tummies andis closer to your own breast milk.
Easy to Digest
The protein in goat's milk makes it easier to digest than cow's milk, according to pediatrician Dr. William Sears. If your baby often spits up or has reflux, goat's milk might be a good option. Goat's milk also has different fats than cow's milk; the fat globules ingoat's milk do not cluster together, making them easier to digest. Goat's milk also reportedly contains more of some essential fatty acids, as well as a higher proportion of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids. These are easier for intestinal enzymes to digest, notes Dr. Sears.
Goat's milk contains only minute amounts of casein, the allergenic protein found in cow's milk, according to Dr. Sears. However, goat's milk and cow's milk both contain another type of allergenic protein, beta-lactoglobulin,so if your baby is allergic to cow's milk he or she may also be allergic to goat's milk. Additionally, goat's milk contains slightly less lactose than cow's milk, saysDr. Sears.
Goat's Milk Formula
Like cow's milk, goat's milk should not be used in place of breast milk or formula for infants, according to Dr. Sears. However, if your baby is less than a year old and soy or hypoallergenic formulas are too difficult to stomach, you should speak to your health care provider about homemade goat's milk formula. This formula--which includes goat's milk as well as added carbohydrates like rice syrup--has"stood the test of time," says Dr. Sears. It should only be given after consulting with your pediatrician; a baby on this formula should also receivevitamin supplements, as prescribed by his or her doctor.
Goat's milk contains significantly higher amounts of calcium, vitamin B-6, vitaminA, potassium and niacin than cow's milk, says Dr. Sears. It is also four times higher in copper and has 27 percent more selenium, an antioxidant. However, since goat's milk contains considerably less vitamin B12 and folic acid than cow's milk, you should speak to your pediatrician about giving your child a folic acid or multivitamin supplement.
Goat's milk is more similar to your breastmilk than cow's milk is; in some countries it is the primary milk given to babies and children, notes pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene. Goat's milk, like your breastmilk, produces an alkaline reaction, whereas cow's milk causes an acid reaction, which can promote bacterial growth, according to the book"Nature's Prescription Milk." In infants over one year of age, goat's milk can be readily used instead of cow's milk.
Cheese and Yogurt
Even if your baby doesn't have a cow's milk allergy or intolerance, he or she may prefer the mild taste and nutritional benefits of goat's milk cheeses and yogurts. You can offer these pasteurized foods to your baby at around six months of age, says pediatrician Frank Greer, former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) Committee on Nutrition. Cheese and yogurt are cultured, making the proteins easier forbabies to digest, which is why these products can be given earlier than milk. However, if your child has a milk intolerance or allergy you should talk to your pediatrician before introducing anydairy products.
AskDrSears: Got Goat's Milk?
Parenting: Ask Dr. Sears: Advantages ofGoat's Milk
Parents: Dr. Alan Greene on Goat's Milk
BabyCenter: When can my baby eat cheese?
Rockwell Nutrition: Cow Milk and Goat Milk FAQs
About this Author
Justine Fontinell began writing professionally in 1998 for websites including People.com and ChickClick. She has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is a Certified Health Coach with the American Association ofDrugless Practitioners.