For most breastfeeding mothers, nursing can be a glorious experience filled with cherished memories. As enjoyable and exciting as nursing your children exclusively might be, at least until they start solid foods, a homemade formula is a viable option, especially the more widely accepted goat milk formula for babies. In reality, goat milk formula is an important choice to consider and have available for those who do not have a breastfeeding relationship with their babies or have lactose intolerant infants.
This option is even more important since unpasteurized, donor breast milk isn’t always available from reliable sources and in sufficient amounts to meet a child’s growing appetite. Sometimes supplementing is a must even though you might do your best to secure quality donor milk, particularly if your child is adopted. Among the choices available, goat milk formula seems to be digested a little bit better by most infants. To help you achieve a better understanding, below are the reasons why goat milk is less allergenic and easier to digest than cow milk.
Less allergenic proteins
Curds are protein clumps formed by the action of stomach acids on protein and softer curds pass through the stomach quicker. Because the protein in goat milk forms a softer curd, it is easier to digest, which is an advantage for infants who have gastroesophageal reflux. Additionally, goat milk contains trace amounts of an allergenic protein known as alpha-S1 casein that is found in cow milk. However, infants allergic to cow milk can also be allergic to goat milk because they both contain another kind of allergenic protein known as beta-lactoglobulin.
A more digestible fat
Thanks to a high proportion of medium and short-chain fatty acids, the fat globules found in goat milk are easier to digest. This biochemical quirk allows intestinal enzymes to digest the fat a lot easier. Cow milk contains longer-chain fatty acids, digestion of which requires more work.
Although lactose is found in goat and cow milk, goat milk contains a slightly less percentage. Studies show that goat milk contains 4.1 percent while cow milk contains 4.7 percent. As such, goat milk provides an added advantage for babies who are lactose intolerant.
While the mineral and vitamin content of cow and goat milk are relatively the same, goat milk contains slightly more calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, copper, and the antioxidant selenium. Cow milk is known to contain more vitamin B12 and folic acid. Because goat milk contains less than 10% the amount of folic acid found in cow milk, supplementing with folic acid is a must. As such, you should ensure the goat milk formula you get is supplemented with folic acid. It is also important to ensure you get certified goat milk, free of antibiotics and bovine growth hormone (BGH). Although you can put an infant who is less than one year old and allergic to soy formulas, cow milk-based formulas, or hypoallergenic formulas on goat milk formula, it should only be under the guidance of a pediatric nutritionist or children’s doctor. If you would like to learn more, the Kabrita USA blog is a great reference for additional information and resources.