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Cow’s Milk vs Goat Milk in Infant Formula

Cow’s Milk vs Goat Milk in Infant Formula

Cow’s milk and goat’s milk are both suitable protein bases to be used in infant formula, and here’s what you should know about the role goat’s milk can play alongside soy and extensively hydrolyzed formula.

Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and soy are all protein bases for infant formula sold in the United States. It’s important to distinguish a protein base from plain milk–neither cow’s milk nor goat’s milk are added to infant formula the way they might be added to coffee or cake, for example. Rather, there are components within those ingredients that are used to create an infant formula that has a similar function to breastmilk.

Cow’s milk or goat’s milk introduction is not recommended before 1 year of age

Keep in mind that these protein base ingredients are just one piece of the infant formula puzzle. Pure cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and soy milk on their own are not suitable food for infants–but these ingredients can all be used in creating an infant formula inspired by human breast milk that is suitable for babies.

How Cow’s Milk and Goat’s Milk are Used in Infant Formulas

One of the key nutrients in infant formula is protein, which is a building block for cells that make up our bodies inside and out. Both cow’s milk and goat’s milk are compositionally similar to human breast milk, which make them both good options to serve as a base for protein in baby formula. Infant formulas are fortified with many nutrients, such as iron, DHA, and others that don’t necessarily come from cow’s milk or goat’s milk.

Is Goat’s Milk Healthier Than Cow’s Milk?

Cow’s milk and goat’s milk offer similar nutrition, and while both play the same essential role in formula, some babies may have an easier time digesting goat’s milk than cow’s milk, and other babies may do better on cow’s milk-based formula. It’s always good to check with your pediatrician before switching to different types of formula and checking with them to know which formulas could be right for your baby. We’re happy to help prepare you for that conversation with information about our family of formulas.

Why Would Someone Choose Goat’s Milk Instead of Cow’s Milk?

Some babies have trouble digesting the proteins in cow’s milk, and others may have an allergy to a protein in cow’s milk (not to be confused with lactose intolerance, which rarely occurs in babies.)

  • When babies have trouble digesting the proteins, their pediatrician may recommend goat’s milk, or a gentler formula. Goat’s milk inherently has smaller proteins than cow’s milk, which is why it may be easier for some babies to digest than cow’s milk.
  • Gentle formulas, such as Enfamil Gentlease, are made with “partially hydrolyzed protein.” This means some of the proteins, which you can think of as big building blocks, are broken down into smaller building blocks that are easier for the body to digest.
  • When babies have a cow’s milk protein allergy, their pediatrician may recommend hypoallergenic formulas, such as Nutramigen, which are made from extensively hydrolyzed proteins. These formulas are still made with cow’s milk, but the building blocks are broken down to be so small that they won’t trigger an allergic reaction.

The Bottom Line on Cow’s Milk vs Goat Milk

When it comes to healthy babies who have no trouble with cow’s milk, goat’s milk-based infant formulas are simply an alternative. Additional nutritional components such as DHA which is not found in abundance in cow’s or goat’s milk are added to formulas and sourced from other ingredients, such as algae. There is no substitute for human breast milk, but Enfamil has always been committed to exploring science-based solutions to help parents feed and supplement their children with our best nutrition possible in our infant formulas.

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All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.