Is it Healthy to Give Goat's Milk to a Baby?

Goat's milk has proteins of high biological value, but less lipids than cow milk, so it's easier to digest. But is it healthy for babies?
Is it Healthy to Give Goat's Milk to a Baby?

Last update: 25 April, 2021

Goat’s milk is a healthy food. It contains proteins of high biological value and other essential nutrients that can help the body to develop its functions properly. However, many people wonder if giving goat’s milk to a baby is correct or if it can pose a risk to the baby’s health.

Before we begin, we must point out that dairy products are a high-value food group in the diet. Although they’re currently under discussion, the evidence leads to the conclusion that they can indeed contribute to a good state of health.

Benefits of goat milk

Let’s get right into the subject by first commenting on the main benefits of goat’s milk and explaining the scientific position on the subject.

Improves muscle development

Goat’s milk has the highest quality proteins. It’s a nutrient of high biological value that has all the essential amino acids and a good digestibility value.

There’s evidence that protein is essential to ensure good muscle function and to prevent tissue degeneration in the medium term. Failure to meet the requirements increases the risk of developing sarcopenia.

A variety of types of milk.
Goat’s milk provides proteins of high biological value.

Increased bone density

In addition to its protein content, goat’s milk stands out for the amount of calcium it contains. This nutrient is essential in order to ensure good bone health.

Its intake during adolescence reduces the risk of suffering fractures during adulthood, as well as the risk of osteoporosis. This is according to a study published in the journal Nutrients.

Easily digestible

Goat’s milk has a lower amount of lipids than cow’s milk. For this reason, it’s much easier to digest. That’s not to say that fats are harmful to health – far from it.

However, these nutrients have a longer gastric emptying time, according to the latest evidence, so they can cause discomfort if consumed in excess.

A class of goat's milk.
The amount of lipids present in goat’s milk are lower than in cow’s milk.

Giving goat’s milk to a baby: from what age and why?

It’s possible to give goat’s milk to a baby as a substitute for cow’s milk, but you need to wait a minimum amount of time to include this type of food in their diet. Otherwise, allergies or intolerances could appear.

Pediatricians recommend not administering this product until after 12 months of age, although some experts maintain that it’s possible to start introducing it somewhat earlier.

You should take into account that goat’s milk has a high concentration of minerals. For this reason, it could be too aggressive for the kidneys if they’re still in the maturation phase.

Goat milk-based infant formulas

Some infant formulas based on goat’s milk are currently available on the market. These can be an alternative to be taken into consideration when those made from cow’s milk produces excessive gases or intestinal discomfort for the child. As goat’s milk is easier to digest, this symptomatology could be alleviated.

In any case, it’s good to consult with the pediatrician before deciding to administer a product of this type. It’s also necessary to observe the nutritional value of the formula in question, thus verifying that it doesn’t contain a large amount of simple sugars.

Adverse effects in infants

The greatest risk of administering goat’s milk to infants is the development of an allergy to the proteins in the food. Cross-allergy between cow’s and goat’s milk proteins could be experienced, and so if one product isn’t tolerated, the other may not be either.

Beyond this, no other adverse effects have been detected when the food is correctly included in the diet, i.e. when you wait 12 months to introduce it. Only minor intestinal alterations, although annoying, such as the appearance of gas, may occur.

A good option for infants

As mentioned above, it’s possible to consider the inclusion of goat’s milk in the diet of babies older than 12 months. This food is easily digestible compared to cow’s milk. It has a high nutritional density among which proteins and minerals such as calcium stand out.

In addition, its lipid profile is considered healthy, although it’s true that most of the fatty acids it contains are saturated. The concentration of these is lower than in the case of cow’s milk.

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  • Martone AM, Marzetti E, Calvani R, Picca A, Tosato M, Santoro L, Di Giorgio A, Nesci A, Sisto A, Santoliquido A, Landi F. Exercise and Protein Intake: A Synergistic Approach against Sarcopenia. Biomed Res Int. 2017
  • Vannucci L, Fossi C, Quattrini S, Guasti L, Pampaloni B, Gronchi G, Giusti F, Romagnoli C, Cianferotti L, Marcucci G, Brandi ML. Calcium Intake in Bone Health: A Focus on Calcium-Rich Mineral Waters. Nutrients. 2018
  • Giezenaar C, Lange K, Hausken T, Jones KL, Horowitz M, Chapman I, Soenen S. Acute Effects of Substitution, and Addition, of Carbohydrates and Fat to Protein on Gastric Emptying, Blood Glucose, Gut Hormones, Appetite, and Energy Intake. Nutrients. 2018