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Is Goat Milk Safe For Babies and Toddlers?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 04, 2021

Goat milk has higher protein levels than other similar baby formulas, and is also higher in protein than human milk. Goat milk contains minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. With all these apparent health benefits, you may be wondering if it would be safe to feed your baby goat milk. 

Goat milk formulas can be healthy for babies and toddlers who have concerns about cow milk. Goat milk is more digestible than cow milk and resembles human milk more closely than cow milk.

Goat Milk and a Child's Safety

Goat milk alone is not recommended for babies. The milk has a high concentration of minerals and proteins, but less folate than is necessary to meet a child's nutritional needs. Some studies also indicate that goat milk is associated with high rates of anemia.

While goat milk alone is not safe for your child, some medical practitioners recommend goat milk-based formulas. These can be safe from your child's birth to when they are a year old. However, you should avoid fresh goat milk and any other pure animal milk during your child's first 12 months.

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Once your child is over a year old, you may want to introduce some goat milk to their diet, but you must consult with your doctor to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrition they need. 

Why consider goat milk? Goat milk is an excellent source for protein and calcium. Studies also indicate that goat milk is a good source of vitamin B1, chlorine, phosphorus and vitamins. Once you administer goat milk to your older child, you can reduce the risk of constipation, diabetes, and cancer.

Goat milk helps reduce cholesterol levels. If your child has high blood cholesterol levels in their arteries and gallbladder, you might want to consider using goat milk. Goat milk has about half as much cholesterol concentration as cow's milk. You can administer goat milk to your child to help keep their saturated fat intake and cholesterol levels in check.

Nutritional Comparison Between Goat Milk and Cow Milk

Goat milk has more protein and fat compared to cow milk. Goat milk also has more potassium, vitamin A, and calcium, essential for your child's growth. It is also generally lower in sodium and carbohydrates. 

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Goat milk contains lactose just like cow milk. If your child is lactose intolerant, you can consider plant milk which contains no lactose. Examples of plant milk include hemp milk, soy, or almond milk. In addition, goat milk is easier to digest than cow milk.

Drawbacks of goat milk. The fact that goat milk protein is similar in structure to cow’s milk means they can both give your child allergic reactions. In this case, goat milk may not be a safe alternative to cow milk. Since goat milk is not as common as cow milk, you may have some trouble finding it in stores.

When goat milk is safe. Consider nutritionally appropriate goat's milk formulas for your baby if they are under 12 months. The best goat milk-based formula needs to be fortified with minerals and vitamins. You can consult your pediatrician, who may recommend you to supplement with vitamin D if the goat's formula lacks the nutrient.

If your baby is sensitive to cow milk, provide goat milk as an alternative. Goat milk-based formulas are a healthy and nutritious option for toddlers showing sensitivity to cow milk. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Aspen Valley Hospital: "Human Milk for Human Babies."

Intermountain Healthcare: “Mom Talk: Should I Give My Baby Goat’s Milk?”

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: “Types of Milk and/or Its Substitutes Given to Children (6–36 Months) in Nurseries in Poland: Data from the Research and Education Project “Eating Healthy, Growing Healthy”

Journal of Health Visiting: "Is goat milk infant formula a safe alternative to cows' milk infant formula?"

National Farmers Information Service: “Nutritive value of goat milk.”

National Library of Medicine: “ Selective allergy to sheep's and goat's milk proteins.”

Nutrients: “The Comparison of Nutritional Value of Human Milk with Other Mammals’ Milk.” 

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