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Organic baby formula is a hot topic here. In fact, it’s what you guys ask about most! I understand—you want to make sure that what you’re feeding your babies and toddlers is the best stuff possible, and there are about a gajillion types of organic baby formula now on the market. I’ve reviewed many of them in my Safe Infant Formula Guide, but this post is dedicated specifically to goat milk baby formula.
I’ve researched the goat milk formulas from Sammy’s Milk, Kabrita, Holle, NANNYcare, and Loulouka because these are the brands that you ask about most. They all qualify as Good Stuff when held up against formula as a whole, and the graphic below is a cheat sheet of these five in my order of preference.
Here’s the Deal with Goat Milk Baby Formula
1) Is goat milk healthier than cow milk? What are the benefits of goat milk baby formula?
Goat milk can be better, yes.
In basic nutritional terms, goat milk and cow milk are pretty similar. Goat milk tends to be higher in several vitamins and minerals. Cow milk is higher in vitamin B12 and has significantly more folic acid than goat milk.
When it comes to formula, these differences don’t matter much. All formulas have nutrients added to make up for whatever the milk they’re based on might be lacking. And all formula is made to mimic human milk as closely as possible.
What’s most important is how the animals—be they cows or goats—are fed and raised. I prefer milk that is organic, or at least non-GMO, and from animals that are pastured.
It’s also worth noting that animal studies and some studies on humans suggest that the vitamins and minerals in goat’s milk might be more readily absorbed than those in cow milk. Basically, goat milk in its natural state seems to be closer to human milk than cow milk is. This is one of the reasons some parents prefer goat milk formulas.
Whichever formula you choose, you should always use a water filter to remove chlorine (carcinogenic) at a minimum. Here’s more on why you should get a filter and which ones I like.
2) Is goat milk easier to digest than cow milk?
Yes. One of the big benefits of goat milk baby formula is that it’s easier to digest. But it’s not for everyone.
Since goat milk protein is naturally easier to digest than cow milk protein, babies with a sensitivity to cow milk may do better with goat milk. The composition of the proteins and fats in goat and cow milk varies enough to make goat milk less problematic and, overall, more digestible. For babies, whose immune and digestive systems are still developing, this could make a big difference. However, for those with a true cow milk protein allergy, goat milk products are not recommended as there is a high risk of cross reactivity. Any baby with a milk allergy should be under the care of a pediatrician before trying goat milk formula.
- The proteins in goat milk digest faster and more easily than those in cow milk. This is in part due to alpha-S1 casein, which is significantly less in goat milk protein. (This type of protein is one that tends to be problematic for some people when they digest cow milk.) Instead, the primary type of casein in goat milk is more similar to what’s found in human milk. It’s worth noting that the fats in goat milk also digest faster and more easily.
- Goat milk has less lactose than cow milk, but it might still be an issue for people with lactose intolerance. Carbohydrates are a very important energy source for babies, so all formulas are required to add more. All of the goat milk formulas I reviewed, except for Sammy’s Milk, add more lactose as carbohydrate source. True lactose intolerance in small children is uncommon and therefore lactose is the preferred carbohydrate source for most babies.
You can read more about the digestibility of goat milk here.
3) Why aren’t all of these goat milk formulas organic?
Of the goat milk formulas I researched, only the European brands–Holle and Loulouka–are certified organic. (And this is according to European standards, which are actually stricter than American standards!).
Here in the United States, there isn’t much certified organic goat milk being produced. There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.
If you want an organic goat milk formula, my pick is Loulouka.
Of the non-organic brands…
- Kabrita uses high-quality, pasteurized Dutch goat milk from a co-op of family farms in the Netherlands.
- NANNYcare milk is from goats that are mostly pasture fed in New Zealand, and raised without the use of hormones; antibiotics use is minimal.
- Sammy’s Milk uses milk from goats that are antibiotic- and hormone-free.
4) Which goat milk formula is best? Is it worth switching baby formula?
We all know breast milk is better than formula, be in from a goat or a cow, and even if you’re choosing an organic baby formula. There’s no such thing as a perfect formula, but the best brands get really close–close enough that you should feel confident feeding the formula to your infant or toddler.
When looking for goat milk formulas to recommend, I considered several factors:
- the quality and purity of the goat milk (organic/non-GMO/pastured)
- the type and purity of of added carbohydrates (sugars)
- the type and purity of added vegetable oils
- the presence of hexane-extracted DHA/ARA
- the presence of problematic synthetic preservatives and nutrients
For more about my rationale behind these factors and why I think they matter when selecting an organic baby formula, see our Safe Infant Formula Guide.
My Top Pick for Goat Milk Baby Formula
If I were looking for a goat milk baby formula for my own child, I would likely choose Kabrita. The biggest reason? Kabrita is the only formula I know of that contains the beneficial type of palm oil (more on this below.)
Goat Milk Formula Review
I like that Kabrita uses goat milk that’s non-GMO according to European standards, which limits the use of pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. Kabrita’s primary added carbohydrate is lactose, and is it the only goat formula sold in the U.S. that is certified glyphosate free.
Kabrita’s formulation doesn’t contain any taurine or carnitine (two synthetic nutrients that are in most baby formulas). I also give Kabrita points for containing both natural and an added prebiotics
–-GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides)–that support the development and maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota.
There are two things that make Kabrita stand out from other goat milk formulas:
- From what we know, Kabrita is the only brand that uses plant-derived fats that match the structure of the most common fat molecules in breast milk. The premium fat blend used by Kabrita, which includes added beta-palmitate, has been shown to benefit the gut microbiota and improve stool consistency.
- Kabrita also adds goat whey, which adapts the whey:casein ratio to be closer to the ratio found in breast milk. Kabrita is one of the only goat milk formulas to do this, and makes their formula even easier to digest.
I also appreciate that Kabrita is transparent about their ingredients. And like all of the formulas listed here, Kabrita forgoes the most concerning preservatives and most synthetic nutrients.
Kabrita adds hexane-extracted DHA and ARA but assures me that hexane is not present in the finished product.
Kabrita is working to release an infant goat milk formula to the U.S. They are currently undergoing the required FDA evaluation process, and you all will be the first to know when a Stage 1 Kabrita is available here!
Kabrita is offers a free full-size tin of their formula to try (you’ll pay $6.99 in shipping).
Loulouka’s Goat Milk Formula gets high marks for being made from whole goat milk that meets European organic standards. Organic lactose as the added carbohydrate source in Loulouka, which is what we always look for.
I also like that the organic oil blend is free of palm and soy. If you want a formula that comes in a Stage 1 and that is organic, Loulouka is my pick.
I like that the primary ingredients in these formulas—goat milk, carbohydrates, and oils—meet a very high, European organic standard. These are the only goat milk formulas that are officially organic. (I’m a fan of Holle’s cow milk formulas, too.) I also like that they don’t add hexane-extracted DHA/ARA and also forgo the most concerning preservatives and most problematic synthetic nutrients. (Formula 1 does have L-methionine).
I don’t like that maltodextrin is the primary added carbohydrate in Holle’s formula, but I appreciate that it is organic, and that they do also use lactose as a sweetener. I’m also not a fan of the palm and grapeseed oils, but they are organic, and Holle also uses organic sunflower oil.
The goat milk used for NANNYcare formulas seems to be well-sourced from New Zealand, but they don’t have any organic or non-GMO certifications.
I like that lactose is the only added carbohydrate, and they skip palm oil and hexane-extracted DHA and ARA. They also don’t use any soy-based ingredients (oil or lecithin).
Like all of the goat milk formulas listed here, NANNYcare forgoes the most concerning preservatives and most synthetic nutrients (they do add L-carninite and taurine to the first formula and growing up milk, and taurine to the follow on milk).
Sammy’s Milk gets major points for using milk from goats that are antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and fed a high-quality diet. We also like that they add molasses as the added carbohydrate and a source of bioavailable iron, real fish oil as a source of DHA and EPA, and avocado oil instead of more problematic vegetable oils.
Sammy’s Milk forgoes the most concerning synthetic preservatives and nutrients, and includes prebiotics to encourage healthy gut bacteria. I like that this formula emphasizes ingredients that are non-GMO, naturally derived, and more bio-available. It is free of soy.
Should You Be Switching to a Goat Milk Formula?
If I were formula feeding my own child, the apparent benefits of goat milk formula would probably make me consider switching from a cow milk variety. I do have clients whose pediatricians discouraged this, so definitely talk to yours before starting on or switching to a goat milk baby formula.
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