What You Should Know About Goat Milk Formula

When it comes to optimal infant nutrition, everyone knows: breast milk is best. However, in some cases, neither breastfeeding nor cow’s milk formula are an option. Could goat milk formula be used instead?

Key takeaways:
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    Goat milk formula is a highly nutritious alternative to cow’s milk formula for babies.
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    For optimal benefits, parents should choose formulas that meet the standards required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or European Commission (EC).
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    Goat’s milk formula is easier to digest than regular formula and a good option for babies with allergies or intolerance to cow’s milk.

In 2022, there was a significant formula shortage in the US, leaving parents looking for alternatives to feed their babies. Some babies have an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk as well.

Could goat milk formula be an option to replace regular baby formula? Does it have all the nutrients? Is it safe? How does goat milk compare with breast milk or cow’s milk? Where can you buy goat milk formula? Read on to find out the answers to all these questions.

Goat milk formula is gaining popularity

The demand for goat milk powder in infant formula is rising as more goat milk formulas are becoming available worldwide. The formulas sold in the US and marked as infant food must meet certain nutritional and safety standards required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In Europe, infant formulas have to meet the standard of the European Commission, which is the equivalent of the FDA, but has stricter rules. The milk formula must contain a certain amount of proteins, fats, and 25 vitamins and minerals, among other criteria. Market analysts predict significant goat milk formula sales growth in the next few years. Why? Because these products seem to offer certain advantages.

Goat milk versus cow’s milk nutrition

According to research studies, goat’s milk is a complete food, is highly nutritious and can be used as a substitute for a meal. Compared with cow’s milk, it is better digested, tolerated, and a great alternative for babies with cow milk allergy or lactose intolerance. Goat milk contains all important nutrients, including fats, proteins, vitamins, enzymes and mineral salts and is low in lactose.

Compared with cow’s milk, goat’s milk contains 25% more vitamin B6, 47% more vitamin A and 13% more calcium. However, it is important to note that the formula for babies is fortified to match the baby’s nutritional needs.

Goat milk also resembles breast milk. It contains A2 casein, which is found in breast milk and is easier digested by infants. Compared with cow’s milk, the fat globules in goat’s milk are small in diameter and therefore faster absorbed.

Goat milk may also be used as a therapy to help improve gut flora, manage digestive complaints like diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, and colics and potentially help with some respiratory problems, too.

Goat milk formula versus cow milk formula for baby’s development

When comparing the nutritional value of goat milk formula versus cow’s milk formula, research studies evaluated various aspects of a baby’s health, including the baby’s growth (weight, length and circumference), blood tests assessing amino acids, vitamins and other markers.

Scientists concluded that “goat milk formula provided growth and nutritional outcomes that were not different from those provided by standard whey-based formula from cow’s milk”.

Is goat milk formula safe for babies?

Parents should look for a goat milk formula marketed for infants that meets the requirements and standards set by the FDA or the European Commission. Some popular baby formula brands are Nanny Care First Infant Goat Formula, Holle Goat Organic Milk formula and Kabrita. These brands can be purchased directly from the company’s websites; some are available online.

Babies younger than age 1 should not consume whole milk because they can't digest the milk properly. Infant formulas fortified with iron, folate, and other nutrients, while other compounds like casein and sugars are removed from the whole milk.are removed from the whole milk. Babies older than 1 can consume small quantities of pasteurised whole milk and other foods. Raw milk that hasn’t been pasteurized may contain bacteria that can cause digestive symptoms and illnesses.

Reasons for choosing goat’s milk formula

An obvious reason why parents may choose goat’s milk formula is if the regular cow’s milk formula is not available in stores. But there are also a few health reasons why goat’s milk formula may become the favorite choice:

  • Cow’s milk allergy or intolerance. Cow’s milk allergy leads to various symptoms, including diarrhea, coughing, shortness of breath, and serious anaphylactic reactions. An estimated 3% of babies worldwide suffer from cow’s milk allergy. Cow’s milk intolerance typically causes milder symptoms like bloating, gas and diarrhea and affects as many as 5% of babies in the first three months of life. In both cases, goat milk formula can be used as an alternative. According to research, 40-100% of those who have an allergy to cow’s milk can tolerate goat’s milk.
  • Casein A1 versus Casein A2. One of the main reasons why goat’s milk may be better digested and tolerated by infants is the casein type found in milk. Casein is a group of proteins found in abundance in dairy products. There are two types of casein: Casein A1 and Casein A2, which have different impacts on the body. Casein A1 is found in most cow’s milk throughout North America, Mexico and Northern Europe, and many babies and adults may be affected by casein A1 intolerance. Abdominal discomfort, excess gas and bloating, itchy skin, runny nose and congestion after consuming dairy with casein A1 suggest intolerance to this protein. Blood sugar imbalances and heart diseases were also linked with casein A1 consumption. Casein A2 is more like the type of casein found in human breast milk and is less likely to cause ill effects. Some cows, goats, and buffalo milk are sources of casein A2.
  • Positive impact on gut flora. Studies from the last few decades reveal that healthy flora is necessary for optimal health. The gut flora plays a key role in digestion and nutrition, supports a healthy immune system, helps prevent and manage infections, influences mood, and impacts certain gene expressions. Although more studies are needed, there is evidence that goat’s milk formula has a positive impact on the baby’s gut flora compared to cow’s milk formula. When evaluating certain beneficial bacterial species from the gut flora, scientists found that consuming goat’s milk formula had similar effects to breast milk.

Goat milk formulas are a good alternative to cow’s milk formula for babies. Look for formulas that meet the requirements of the FDA or other health authorities to ensure they meet all the nutrition requirements. Consult a pediatrician before changing the diet or if the baby experiences symptoms related to these changes.


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