Formula feeding has extended its offerings over the years. From breastfeeding to an array of animal-based formulas, there are so many different types to choose from to provide your baby all the essential nutrients.
For now, let’s focus on goat and cow milk formulas. Together, we’ll look at the differences of the two as well as some of the benefits they yield as formulas. Your baby deserves the nutritious formula for healthy development, and you deserve to know all that.
Are you ready to see what’s “on the menu” for your little one?
Moo or Bleat? Choices from the Farm!
Here’s some advice from Tiffani Ghere, Registered Dietician, Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition, and Certified Lactation Educator. Tiffani has worked in Children’s Hospitals for over 15 years as Senior Clinical Dietitian in the NICU, PICU, medical, and surgical floors, as well as the outpatient specialty clinics. She’s also a mom to three sons!
We asked her: goat milk formula versus cow milk formula–under what instances would you recommend goat milk formula for a baby?
Here’s what she had to say!
Goat milk is widely used throughout the world but there are no FDA-approved goat milk-based infant formulas in the United States. Of the three main options, two are from European countries, and the third is a toddler formula which doesn’t meet the nutritional needs of a baby.
Parents look to goat’s milk formula because it has been touted to be easier to digest. Casein is a protein that is found in breastmilk, cow’s milk and goat’s milk, though each is
slightly different since they come from different sources. When casein hits the acidity of the stomach during digestion, it creates curdles (similar to cottage cheese). Goat’s milk has been found to have smaller, softer curds that are created in the tummy from the milk proteins during digestion.
One study showed that the timing of both protein digestion and protein absorption of goat’s milk infant formula was much closer to breast milk when compared to cow’s formula milk, however, there are other considerations when choosing an infant formula, the first being safety. Formulas sourced outside the U.S. have different production standards, must be shipped long distances (which can include extreme temperatures and environmental hazards), and are often sold from intermediate vendors not related to the primary company.
Currently there are no indications for professional recommendations for using goat’s milk formulas for infants in the U.S., given the risk of the supply chain, inability to monitor any recalls from the suppliers, and lack of nutritional adequacy for a toddler formula to meet an infant’s needs. If a physician or other healthcare professional recommends using these types of formulas, it would be off-label.
Thanks for the helpful information, Tiffani!
Let’s take a deep dive to better explore everything Tiffani just talked about, and then some!
What’s Cow Milk Formula?
Cow’s milk formula is best defined as a mixture created from the proteins found in cow’s milk. The protein is then altered in a way that’s easier to digest for babies, so it can work better with their tiny, sensitive digestive systems.
Before the age of one, infants have a more difficult time processing the high levels of protein, sodium, and potassium in regular cow’s milk.
However, not all babies process formula the same way. If your baby happens to have an intolerance to a cow’s milk formula, these are the following symptoms you might see.
- Continuous spit up
- Colic symptoms, such as excessive crying or irritability after feedings
- Presence of blood in the stool
- Lack of weight gain
- Scaly skin rash
- Coughing or wheezing
- Watery eyes and stuffy nose
- Trouble breathing
- Swollen mouth and throat
- Anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction)
You can also check out our article that goes over How to Tell If Formula Doesn’t Agree with Your Baby!
In a study that was done on cow milk allergies, it was also said that the diagnosis comes with an array of symptoms like mentioned above.
If an allergy in cow’s milk is found in your baby, then the following type of formulas may work best as an alternate:
- Acid reflux formulas
- Lactose-free formulas
- Hypoallergenic infant formulas
What About Goat Milk Formula?
On the other hand, goat milk formula can be described the exact same way. The main difference is that the source of the milk comes from a goat instead of a cow.
It should also be known that goat milk can also be easier to digest than cow’s milk. The reason? The curd quality is actually the defining factor when comparing the two. For instance, the curds in goat milk are actually smaller, so they’re more easily digested by a baby’s body. Cow milk, however, has larger curds, so it takes longer to digest.
Goat milk is also known to contain much more protein than cow’s milk. And sometimes, it might be too much on a newborn’s kidneys, making it harder for them to break it down over time.
Goat and Cow’s Milk Can Be Quite Similar…
In fact, they’re similar in terms of the levels of fats and carbohydrates that are produced.
Did you know it’s super essential for your baby to get a good balance of healthy carbohydrates in their system? They’re easily broken down and utilized as your baby’s body relies on them for regular, healthy development. Goat milk may taste sweeter to your baby though because of the levels of lactose in it.
Fatty acids are also a huge necessity for a baby’s development, and they can be found pretty heavily in both goat and cow milk formula. Breast milk is actually composed of at least 25% fatty acids.
…But Goat Milk Has Quite a Few Advantages Over Cow Milk
Goat milk has its perks – this type of formula is actually known for easing feelings of constipation and gas. And let’s face it, both of those make little ones unhappy! The digestive acids are there to go to work and break down the proteins into smaller proteins, so when the milk hits your baby’s tummy, it will instantly start to curdle.
The curd from goat milk proteins is known to be light and airy. It can also be compared to that of a wiffle ball with lots of space. Within that space, there are digestive enzymes present to truly get the job done.
Cow’s milk is known to curdle into harder more dense balls, which is actually one of the reasons more infants have an intolerance to it. Plus, this can result in constipation or gas.
In a recent case study that was conducted, medical officials tested infants using both cow and goat milk. While they found all of the babies to grow and develop equally despite the different formulas, it was also concluded that the different formulas compositions could have a different impact on the digestion process.
The Benefits of Giving Your Baby Formula, Be it Cow or Goat’s Milk-Derived!
As a parent, choosing to “go formula” is a big decision! So, if you do opt to give your baby formula, it’s great to know that there are actually a ton benefits that can come from it. While breastfeeding comes with its own set of cool features, so does formula. There is no wrong path to take, but the benefits of each can prove to be quite different.
Take a look at the following to see how formula feeding can be a great addition into your daily routine as a new parent. You can also introduce both formula feeding and breastfeeding into your weekly routine and do what’s called “combo feeding.” Every feeding journey is different, and it’s up to you to decide what you’re comfortable with and what feels right!
So here are some benefits of introducing formula into the mix!
You Can Share the Responsibility
With formula feeding, you and your partner or other family member can share the opportunity (and responsibility) of feeding your baby. So, hand over the bottle! Plus, if you happen to be away from home, then your partner can also prepare the formula from scratch.
If this happens to be your second or third child too, you will also be able to switch off in taking care of the different kids. Parenting is no easy walk in the park, so it’s always a pro when you have an extra set of hands able to help with feeding.
Know How Much Your Baby is Eating
By mixing up your own formula, you know exactly how much is going into the bottle and how much nutrition your little one is getting. This is perfect, especially if you’re honing in on your baby’s development and weight gain.
When you’re nursing, you can sometimes be playing a guessing game unless you’re pumping into a bottle before their feeding. It can be tricky to measure how much is released and if your baby is getting enough to eat.
Take Medication Without the Worry
While there are several medications you can be on while breastfeeding such as basic over the counter pain meds, there are still certain types that shouldn’t be taken in combination with feeding your child. This is due to the fact that they can directly affect the development of your baby. But with formula, these restrictions are reduced.
For instance, if you have an injury after birth and need to take pain medication, there are certain types that may not work well in conjunction with breastfeeding. Always make sure to partner with a medical professional to see which medications are healthy and safe while feeding your infant.
Enjoy a Cup of Coffee or a Cocktail
Coffee and cocktails may be one of the many things you’ve been really looking forward to post pregnancy. And if you’re breastfeeding, then that wait will only be prolonged. Feel free to have either with your favorite meal and not have to worry about flushing it out of your system for the sake of your baby.
Keep in mind that if you’re combo feeding, these two tonics are still worth avoiding.
Go to Work Without the Need to Pump
With formula feeding, you never have to be interrupted in order to pump. In fact, you can move through your day seamlessly without the feeling of having to remove yourself from the cubicle or schedule meetings around your own pumping schedule. Work can be stressful enough, but when you throw breastfeeding into the mix, the load on yourself during the day can only get heavier.
By having the formula ready to go at the house, anyone watching your little one will have all the right mixtures to be prepared when feeding time rolls around.
You Have the Choice!
Breastfeeding or formula feeding is a personal choice and it should 100% be your own. Not every mother goes through the same life ventures with their child, so it’s completely understandable to choose one feeding method over the other.
Different formulas were made in order to give you more options as you go through the life of parenting. As the medical field and motherhood industry continues to innovate itself, there will continue to be even more options added to the shelf of offerings.
Our Final Thoughts
Cow and goat milk are pretty similar in formulation, but they do have small differences that aid in making an informed decision on your baby’s diet. While goat milk may be easier to digest, cow’s milk might have a more balanced source of protein.
It’s also completely okay and healthy to feed your baby formula instead of or along with breastmilk.
We understand that not every mother will want to make the same choice for their infant, and it should be expected. Plus, if you experience great benefits from the features of using formula, like the ones mentioned, then it may prove to be the better choice for your baby.
Your baby’s health and safety are vital for optimal development, so it’s important to choose the feeding method that he or she enjoys most!