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Once infants are born, they usually consume milk for the first few months of their lives, a lot of milk. When it comes to infant nutrition, there are two common options available; breast milk and non-human milk. Breast milk is usually considered the best form of nutrition for growing infants and provides most infants with all the nutrients they need to survive for the first 4-6 months of life.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding can be quite tasking for many mothers. Therefore many mothers may choose to feed their infants only non-human milk (a method called replacement feeding) or supplement their breastmilk with non-human milk (called mixed feeding).
But when you start giving an infant non-human milk you have a whole host of other problems to worry about such as food allergies, nutritional content, safety, hygiene, and cost. A popular breast milk substitute is goat milk.
What Other Milk Can Be Given Apart from Breast Milk?
If the mother decides to supplement breast milk or replace it, there are many non-human milk sources from which she can choose from. They are:
- Cow milk
- Goat milk
- Almond milk
- Soy milk
- Toddler formulas
- Rice milk
- Hemp milk
However, when a choice is to be made concerning which non-human milk to use for supplementation or replacement, a lot is to be considered. Therefore, it is most advisable to make this decision with a pediatrician.
Why is Goat Milk the Most Preferred Non-Human Milk?
Compared to other non-human milk that can be used for supplementation, or replacement, goat milk has been recorded as the most preferred by doctors and nursing mothers. It is the closest to breast milk, and the following nutritional values provide an upper hand:
- Newborns show very little or no allergy to goat milk than in other forms of non-human milk
- Goat milk is naturally homogenized, unlike cow milk which separates into two different components when left standing, the upper lipid-reach cream, and the lipid-deficient lower skim milk. This is because goat milk has smaller fat molecules and lacks protein which causes cow milk to separate into different components
- Goat milk improves the absorption of iron in the body compared to other non-human milk
- Although babies take milk as their first food, some are lactose intolerant. Goat milk has the lowest lactose level among non-human milk, which makes it very consumable.
- Goat milk promotes gut health and immune development due to the presence of oligosaccharides.
- Compared to other forms of non-human milk that are acidic, goat milk is alkaline just like breast milk. This is very good because alkaline milk prevents gastrointestinal infections.
- Goat milk enhances bone condition, especially in anemic infants.
- It is made up of less dense milk and short-chained fats which digests easily.
- In goat milk, there is a protein called epithelial growth factor that is very important in the development of the liver and gastrointestinal tract.
- Goat milk has components that nurture the bacteria that are used for digestion, and also has anti-inflammation properties.
- In terms of nucleotide and protein content, goat milk is quite high and even beats that of human and cow milk. This is important to the developing infant as this is needed for optimal brain development and enhances intelligence in young children.
- Another important role goat milk plays in growing infants is by providing them with a special protein called epithelial growth factor. This important for the development of the gastrointestinal tract and the liver.
Is Goat Milk Better than Breast Milk?
Although goat milk has much nutritional value, it can never be better than breast milk. Breast milk is the most natural and most nutritious form of milk for newborns. Nursing mothers are mostly encouraged to practice exclusive breastfeeding. This is because, breast milk has extremely good nutritional values, which no non-human milk can ever match up to. These advantages include:
- Breast milk contains the most appropriate nutrients, in the right proportion for babies, most especially newborns.
- Breast milk administered directly from the breast gives the best condition for digestion as it makes it extremely easy to absorption.
- Constant production of breast milk in the body of the mother produces oxytocin which helps her to heal faster from childbirth and stop postpartum bleeding.
What Are the Disadvantages of Goat Milk?
Although goat milk seems to be highly blessed, there are some disadvantages inclined with it. These disadvantages are small in number, but they include:
- Goat milk has a weird taste and some brands have a strong “goat” smell in their product. The taste of goat milk is salty and a bit musky too. Babies, especially newborns, are very picky and might not like this taste. The strong smell is enough for them to reject it.
- Goat milk is not easy to find. Unlike other forms of non-human milk that are can be gotten easily and at reasonable prices, goat milk seems to differ. This is mainly because of its nutritional value, but it might also be a hindrance.
- When compared to other forms of non-human milk, the cholesterol in goat milk is high. Babies that have high blood pressure and other health issues related to cholesterol levels are at risk if they are fed goat milk.
- Due to the small amount of lactose and small molecules of fat, if goat milk is taking in excess it will lead to bloating.
- With all the great benefits of goat milk, it seems to lack certain important nutrients. Goat milk lacks folic acid and Vitamin B12 which are m important in the formation of red blood cells, and Zinc that helps in maintaining a strong immune system.
How Can I Pick the Best Version of Goat Milk?
When deciding on the brand of goat milk to go with, parents should involve a pediatrician for proper guidance. A pediatrician should be involved because babies are different and can have different allergies, and different medical conditions of which the parents might not understand. However, the parents are to have some knowledge on what to watch out for; therefore when picking a goat milk brand, be very vigilant for the following:
- Pasteurized goat milk, especially if the baby is not yet up to twelve months old. Unpasteurized goat milk is very organic. This means that it consists of bacteria and other microorganisms. The baby has a developing immune system and the introduction of bacteria into his body is very dangerous.
- Nutritional value of some brands. Although goat milk is very nutritional, some brands vary its nutrients to soothe their cost of production and other factors. Always go for the brands that have high nutritional value and are pasteurized.
- Vitamin D. If vitamin D is not present, or not up to the quantity you desire, meet your pediatrician for vitamin D supplements. However, if vitamin D supplements cannot go with that brand due to other nutritional factors, look for another brand.
What Is the Best Way to Feed Goat Milk?
There are many ways of interchange and mix supplements when mixed feeding. However, whatever method you are using, never mix breast milk and goat milk; in clearer terms, do not try to give goat milk and breast milk at the same time. Some mothers might try to put breast milk in a bottle and also put some goat milk powder to provide high-class nutrition. This mixture though made with good intentions, leads to very massive destruction of the baby’s nutrition and will eventually lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea. This is because the chemistry of breast milk is very different from that of goat milk
If the mother has picked a brand of pasteurized goat milk with the guidance of the doctor, the baby is fed according to the formula. When breast milk is involved, give one first and then give the other.
What Groups of Babies Are Not Allowed to Take Goat Milk?
The nutritional values and contents of goat milk are very tempting, but not all babies are to take goat milk. The groups of babies that are not allowed to take goat milk, or are to be checked very well before the choice is made include:
- Newborns that have allergies to cow milk
- Newborns lower than 12 months are not to take raw goat milk or goat milk that has not been pasteurized.
- Babies that have other food allergies.
What are the Symptoms of Allergy to Goat Milk?
If a baby shows the following symptoms, it indicates an allergy to the goat milk given. These symptoms include:
- Swollen face
- Abdominal cramps
- Skin hives(this comes with swelling on the skin and intense itching)
The best treatment and greatest shield a mother can give her baby against any form of disease is food that is of excellent nutrition content. However, any decision regarding the baby’s feeding should not be done solo; it must be done with the guidance of a pediatrician. Nursing mothers should be vigilant to notice allergies and other complications. This is because the mouth is the gateway that should be guarded with every level of extremity.