Is Goat’s Milk Safe for Babies?

Fed is best! Let’s start there and we’ll end that conversation there as well. One thing this article is not going to be is about the pros and cons of breast milk vs formula.

Goat Milk

Here, the goal is to discuss other forms of milk for when it’s time to make the transition to a different kind of milk for your baby plus guidelines as to when this is acceptable and if goat milk specifically is something safe for your baby.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss actually giving your baby goat milk.

When to Make the Switch to Something Other than Breast Milk or Formula

Babies are born and for the first year of their lives, they should survive on breast milk or formula until they are at least 12 months of age because other kinds of milk are not adequate sources for vitamin E, iron, essential fatty acids, and may contain too much protein, sodium, and potassium.[1]

As far as breast milk and formula, those are both made specifically for your baby (and if anyone has ever seen the difference in breast milk when a baby is sick vs when they are healthy, it’s amazing) and provide all of the appropriate nutrients for your babies growth.[2]

So once you get to the year mark and start introducing milk, some questions may arise as to what type of milk is safe to feed them.

But here let’s focus on the safety and appropriateness of goats milk for children (at this point we’ll discuss over the age of one since it’s already been stated that children under one shouldn’t be given milk of any kind).

Goats Milk and Why it’s Chosen

There are a few reasons as to why families might choose to use goats milk instead of cows milk.

Some people prefer the taste of goats milk due to how it’s produced and it’s production and the life of the animal is primarily one of the reasons that certain regions use goats milk.

Some of the basics between cows milk and goat milk is that goats milk is said to be easier to digest due to the smaller fat molecules in the milk.[3]

Some might consider this a better option than regular milk because they have trouble digesting cows milk.

One of the reason it’s said to be easier to digest is because it has less milk sugar (lactose)[4], which some people have an intolerance too and this might be easier.

There are also cultural reasons for using goat’s milk in other parts of the world, so while the western world seems to prefer and utilize cows milk more often, more than 65% of the rest of the world enjoys and drinks goats milk more often.[5]

In impoverished countries and places that down have regular refrigeration, a goat can provide them with the nutrition they need, and one goat can produce about a gallon and a half of milk daily[6], which is a great amount for a family, especially those that cannot afford to either care for a much larger animal, a cow, and those that can’t store their milk either.

So now that you know the background, is it or isn’t it ideal for your little one?

Is it Safe and Appropriate for your Baby?

The nutrients are not the same in goats milk. One of the main reasons that goat milk is not ideal is because of its lack of folic acid. Children have a recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 75-100mcg of folic acid per day.

For every glass of cow’s milk, a child is getting 12mcg vs the 1mcg in one glass of goats milk.[7] If you are feeding your child goats milk, it has to be supplemented or it is not an adequate option for them.

Again, it’s not appropriate to use goat’s milk before 12 months (just like cows milk) and formula should be given if you cannot breastfeed (and that’s completely okay as well, fed is best).

If given too much milk, children can be subjected to anemia and poor growth due to its high sodium content, high chloride, and potassium.[8]

So in reality, if your baby is under a year old, don’t use goats milk. Use a formula that is already made or breast milk. Again, these are specially formulated for babies and tailored to their specific nutritional needs.

Some people try to make their own formula because they want to be that “crunchy” mom, but some of the issues with that is it can lead to serious nutritional imbalances in a baby[9], and that’s not something you’ll want to have to deal with because proper nutrition is everything for the proper growth of your little one.

Goat’s milk itself doesn’t have enough of the essential needs such as folate, vitamin C, Vitamin D, thiamin, niacin, Vitamin B6, and iron.[10]

So just to be safe, don’t use goats milk in your baby. If you want to use it when they are older, ensure that you are using supplements to supplement their diet.

Ensuring that they have the proper nutrition now is essential to making sure that they have no issues with development in the near future.

References

  1. Giving Baby Dairy Whole Cow Milk. [Link]
  2. Feeding Guide for the First Year. [Link]
  3. Stephanie Jeong. Goats Milk vs. Cows Milk – What’s the Difference? [Link]
  4. See Above #3
  5. Nora Landis-Shack. Apparently, 65% of the World Drinks Goat’s Milk Over Cow’s Milk. [Link]
  6. See Above #5
  7. Dr. Bill Sears. Goat Milk. [Link]
  8. Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC. Is it Safe to Use Cow’s Milk or Other Milks as a Supplement to Breastfeeding? [Link]
  9. A. Pawlowski. Sorry, Kristin Cavallari: Homemade Formula, Goat’s Milk are Bad News for Babies. [Link]
  10. See Above #10
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