Milk is called nature's most nearly perfect food for a wide number of reasons. People around the world generally consume the milk of cows, goats, buffalo, llamas, reindeer, horses, sheep, camels, and yaks. While goat milk may be harder to acquire in terms of availability and access in India, it has certain special attributes which are of particular significance in human nutrition.
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However, it is best advised to not give your baby sheep/goat milk as his main drink until he is at least one year old. Certain studies have recommended that goat milk should not be given to very young children, due to the unique nutritional needs in the developmental stages. Due to the different nutrient composition of goat milk from cow’s milk, it is not recommended to
immediately give your child goat milk once they stop breast or bottle-feeding. As they get older, the nutrient composition of goat milk becomes more appropriate, but for proper development, it is wise, to begin with, cow milk.
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On the contrary, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests that cow's milk is the leading cause of food allergies in children. The closest commercially available milk to human milk in the composition is goat milk. According to them, if a mother is unable to breastfeed, then goat's milk is a safer substitute for the baby than cow's milk.
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This debate can be put to rest by ensuring the safety and hygienic conditions of procuring goat/sheep milk, which plays an important role in preventing milk-related infections in young children. If breastfeeding is going well for you and your baby, it's fine to carry on breastfeeding your baby past his first birthday. But if you do choose to give your baby sheep/ goat milk, make sure the milk is pasteurised and processed well.
Note that goat's milk formulas meet the same nutritional standards as those formulas based on cow's milk. Once your baby is six months old, you can then move him on to a goat milk formula, on the advice of your Paediatrician.
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Composition of goat milk in comparison with cow's milk
Species Fat Protein Lactose Ash S. N. F Solids
Indian cows 4.8 2.8 4.6 0.74 8.1 13.5
Goat 4.9 4.3 4.1 0.89 9.3 14.2
Source: Schneider et al. (1948), Indian Council of Agricultural Reasearch (1962), Ghosh And Anantakrishnan (1963, 1965).
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