Health Benefits Of Goat Milk For Babies
Goat milk is low in lactose and high in calcium. So, when should you begin giving your baby goat milk? Read on to know the benefits of goat milk for babies.
By Subhechha Chatterjee
“When I first introduced my 1-year-old to cow’s milk, she developed severe stomach upsets and suffered from prolonged bouts of vomiting and indigestion. The paediatrician suggested that my baby was probably intolerant to cow’s milk. However, before making a shift to plant-based milks like soy or almond milk, he advised us to try introducing goat milk. Today, my daughter is 2.5 years old. She still consumes goat milk on a daily basis and it seems to suit her very well,” shares Sudeshna De from Kolkata.
Quite a few babies are intolerant to cow’s milk, primarily because of its high lactose content. In such a situation, goat milk for babies is a healthy alternative.
You might be wondering, 'How different is goat's milk from cow's milk?' Is it suitable for lactose-intolerant children? Does it have the nutrients that children need for growth and development? Can it be given to babies?
The answer is yes. It is a safe and healthy choice that can be considered for babies, especially above the age of one.
With lower lactose levels, compared with cow milk, goat milk is a good option for those with mild lactose intolerance. It is rich in nutrients, with a considerable amount of fat, carbohydrates, proteins and calcium.
Health benefits of goat milk for babies
- Easier to digest: Goat milk is composed of smaller fat globules when compared to cow milk. This presents a larger surface area for digestive enzymes to act upon resulting in easier digestion of goat milk. This aids in better absorption of nutrients making it a good choice for the development of a growing baby.
- Has higher alkalinity: The pH of goat milk is higher than that of cow’s milk; so, it is more alkaline. In fact, the alkalinity of goat milk is closer to that of breast milk. This makes it more suitable for consumption by babies.
- Stimulates the growth of good intestinal bacteria: Goat milk is known to nurture good gut microflora. This aids digestion and reduces colic-related pain in babies.
- Contains low lactose levels: Compared to milk from other animals like the cow or buffalo, the lactose content is much lower in goat milk. As a result, there is less chance of lactose-related allergic reactions and discomfort.
- Ensures better absorption of iron: Studies have shown that our body can absorb iron more easily from goat milk compared to cow milk. Better iron absorption plays a key role in brain development and improved haemoglobin levels for babies.
- Strengthens bones: Because of its high calcium content, goat milk for babies is a good choice as it helps boost bone growth.
Nutritional composition of goat milk, whole (100ml)
- Energy 72kcal
- Protein 3.33g
- Fat 4.5g
- Carbohydrate 4.6g
- Calcium 170mg
- Vitamin A 55mcg
- Cholesterol 11mg
Data based on USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) - National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Goat milk for babies: Precautions to take
- It is advisable to not introduce goat milk in your child’s diet until she turns one.
- Begin by giving your baby a small amount of goat milk. Watch out for signs of an allergic reaction.
- In the case of issues like abdominal cramps, hives, rashes, indigestion and vomiting, it is best to opt for immediate medical help.
- Do not consider goat milk as an alternative to other sources of food that fulfil your baby’s nutritional requirements. It is only a supplement.
- Babies diagnosed with severe lactose intolerance should not be given goat milk.
- Make sure that the goat milk is unadulterated and free of preservatives. Adulterated milk can affect your baby’s health.
How to get the best goat milk
Selecting the right goat milk is vital for your baby's health. Here is what you should do before buying goat milk:
- Ensure that the milk is pasteurised and sold by a reputed brand.
- Check the nutritional composition of the milk. This is usually mentioned on the pack.
- Ensure the milk is free of added synthetic sugars and taste enhancers.
Goat milk products
- Goat milk cheese: If your child is intolerant or allergic to cheese made of cow milk, goat cheese is a good choice. It has a different taste and flavour and has anti-inflammatory properties. Goat milk cheese also serves as a probiotic. So, it improves gut health and the functioning of the immune system.
- Goat milk lotion: Because of the presence of considerable amount of vitamins, caprylic acid and alpha hydroxy acid, goat milk serves to nourish the skin. It makes the skin more supple and hydrates it. Moreover, goat milk lotion also eliminates dead cells and stimulates the regeneration of skin cells. Goat milk also helps in reducing the effects of skin infections and breakouts.
- Goat milk shampoo: It is believed that goat milk shampoo makes the hair soft and less frizzy. Moreover, goat milk also helps with scalp conditions like eczema or psoriasis. The mild nature of goat milk helps in relieving the discomfort caused by these conditions. It also reduces dryness and flakiness of the scalp.
With multiple benefits and a high nutrient content, goat milk can serve as a good substitute for cow’s milk in your baby’s diet. However, make sure to consult your paediatrician before you introduce your child to goat milk, be it either for consumption or for topical application.
About the expert:
Reviewed by Dr Neha Sanwalka Rungta on 15 October 2019
Dr Neha Sanwalka Rungta is a paediatric nutritionist and director of NutriCanvas.
About the author:
Written by Subhechha Chatterjee on 24 September 2019; updated on 15 October 2019
Subhechha Chatterjee is a Microbiology Graduate and a Young India Fellow with a keen interest in experimenting with behavioural change strategies that positively impact public health. She is also a professional Kathak dancer. She voluntarily mentors young orphaned children as she believes that happiness and knowledge grow only when shared.
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