Is Goat's Milk Better for a Cow's Milk Sensitive Toddler?

Updated on May 28, 2011
J.M. asks from Miami, FL
18 answers

Hi Moms,

My 27-month-old toddler is sensitive to cow's milk and gets eczema and diarrhea when he consumes it. I'm desperate to get him off of Neocate, a specially formulated nondairy "milk", since it is extremely expensive and our insurance stopped covering it a year ago, but have no idea what I can switch him to. I've tried almond milk but he wouldn't drink it and his pediatric GI said rice milk won't give him enough nutrients so now I'm thinking I should try goat's milk. Has anyone had success with goat's milk? I'd eliminate milk altogether from his diet but he's an extremely picky eater and doesn't eat much, so it's my "insurance" that he'll get something in his stomach. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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answers from Washington DC on

My sister had a number of allergies and while we lived close to an aunt who raised goats, she had goat's milk and seemed to do better. You could try it. However, if he's so sensitive that milk gives him tummy trouble, maybe it won't be the substitute you need.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

I think it's what he's sensitive to in the milk. If it's something cow-specific, goats milk could help. But if it has to do with proteins or sugars that are general to milk, there probably won't be much difference.
And if it's a sensitivity to something they feed the cows, many dairy goats have a similar diet. So again, might not help.

Good luck! I've heard of kids who grow out of these sensitivities, so maybe it won't be too long term.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Allentown on

If it's the lactose he's sensitive to, yes, goats milk has a good chance of being kinder to him.
If it's the milk protein he's sensitive to, no, there's a good chance it will not help him.

Keep in mind that rice, almond, soy, and hemp milk are not MILK. They do not have anywhere near the same nutritional make up of milk, and are higher in sugar. They're used to make you feel like you're drinking milk, not to nourish you like milk can. Though, if you do go with a replacement, hemp milk has the best nutritional make up of all those options.

Animal milk is not something that is needed in our diets. The only reason it's such a pain to live with that limitation is because lactose and/or milk proteins are added into a shocking number of food.

(And I apologize if that doesn't make sense or seems fragmented. I shouldn't post on 3 hours of sleep!)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I had a sensitivity when I was young so my mom gave me goat's milk. My mom said it cleared up all symptoms. Dr. said I would grow out of the sensitivities to dairy. I guess I did. Now I consume dairy products in various forms and don't have any major issues. I just get nasal congestion after I hit my saturation point then lay off for awile.

I say try it out for awhile.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I was going to say kids don't actually need milk, until you said he is a very picky eater. I see why you are concerned.

It really depends. There is still casein and lactose, in Goat's milk. The proteins are smaller then in cow's milk, and easier to digest. However, this does NOT mean it is going to work. I have a milk allergy and react to goat's milk. Some people who have problems with cows milk can drink goat milk with no reaction. It really depends on your child's body and how he digests things. A good probiotic can help him with the digestive issues, possibly. I say the only way you really know, is to try. He might not take to the taste...I personally find it disgusting...and I've known people who love it. I agree with the rice milk, it's not nutritionally sound, if you are needing him to get nourishment from the milk.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My son is allergic to cow's milk - it gives him really bad eczema and makes him very grouchy and grumpy. He's been drinking goat's milk for YEARS and loves it. It's expensive, so he's the only one in the family that gets it, but it IS easier for humans to digest than cow's milk. Worldwide, more people probably drink goat's milk than cow's milk. I would definitely have your little guy try it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,

You can try the goat's milk, but many children who are sensitive to cows' milk are also sensitive to all other forms of commonly available mammalian milks (like sheep). The exception to this is camel's milk, but I think you're going to have a really tough time finding that in the US. I don't even think you'd be likely to find it in a middle-eastern market. BTW, if you decide to try the goat's milk route, do NOT get it raw, as suggested by a mom below. The risk of your son contracting a serious Listeria or Clostridium infection is too high. Pasteurization does not destroy the important proteins and sugars in the milk -- it only kills the bacteria that can cause disease. Even if some proteins were minimally denatured, the amino acids constructing them would remain. It is the amino acids that we need to consume for nourishment, not the proteins (which is why formulas like Neocate and Allimentum are useful). Proteins are digested into their component amino acids in the stomach and small intestine, any way. I do wish people would learn a little Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Food Science, and basic Physiology before posting dietary advice here! (My areas of expertise are in Molecular Biology, Immunology/Allergy, and Infectious Disease.)

There are a number of other milks you can try, such as hemp milk (as the GI specialist if it contains enough nutrients for a toddler), and soy milk. A lot of kids with milk sensitivities are also sensitive or allergic to soy, however. Talk to his doctor about a good multivitamin to bridge his nutritional gap. Be careful about using many of the over-the-counter brands, though, because they're often prepared in a milk base. I know there's adult dairy free vitamin, Nutrient 950, which is very good (this the only multivitamin recommended by my son's doctor for him, since he has Crohn's disease and must stay dairy and gluten free).

Most kids are pretty good about not starving themselves. If you have to wean from the Neocate, it may take a while and be very nerve-wracking to you, but you may find that your picky eater will expand his diet and eat more solid foods to satisfy the needs of his body. You can also try to hide nutrient-rich foods in the foods he will eat. I used to puree all sorts of green vegetables and sweet fruits together (like apricots and watermelon), and make my own fruit roll-ups using a food dehydrator. The kids loved the taste of these, and never even knew they were eating veges. I also found that the kids would eat just about anything if I cut it into fun shapes, so I kept a stock of cookie cutters in various shapes and sizes. It's a bit more work, but pays off in nutrition. I also found that my kids would eat things if they helped to prepare them, and started them cooking simple things in the kitchen with me when they were about 2 years old. I would let them do things like mash cooled potatoes, stir eggs, push the button on the blender, etc. They loved it, and both became pretty accomplished cooks by the time they were 6 - 7 years old (their now 21and 18, and cook better than I do!).

If you really need to keep him on the Neocate for adequate nutrition, perhaps you can get the GI specialist to address the issue with the insurance company under the terms of medical necessity.

Good luck! The good news is, the vast majority of toddlers who are allergic to milk outgrow the allergy by the early childhood years. Hopefully, this will be the case for your son.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Goat's milk is the closest to human milk available. I would see if you can find it from a local farmer and get it raw. The raw version of milk has all of the enzymes and nutrients. The pasteurization process kills anythink healthy in milk. Most people who can't drink the store bought milk can drink raw milk. Their bodies just need the enzymes found in the milk that are used to digest it. I would take a look here to see if you can find a local source:
They also have a lot of articles that will help educate you on this topic. We used to own dairy goats, and the kids loved it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I believe goat's milk has less lactose in it and is easier to digest. My daughter who is lactose intollerant has had it over the years. I don't belong to the school of thought that kids need milk especially when they are past the toddler stage. My daughter's Orthopedic doctor just told me the other day (after I gave him an overview of her diet) that milk is over rated and not really necessary as long as my daughter was eating yogurt, cheese, fortified orange juice and green leafy veggies - all of which she can and does eat. good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

From what I've read, goat's milk is pretty similar to cows milk and not recommend for people with dairy sensitivity/allergies. Our pediatrician suggested soy milk, and that is what we used until our son was able to digest cow milk at age 3. Have you considered consulting with a dietician? Don't know if your insurance would cover it, but my pediatrician said he'd make a referral if I was still worried about nutrition. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

I dont know what it tastes like, but my mom had to put me on goats milk when I was little cuz cows milk didnt agree with me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

my 6 month old is terribly sensitive to dairy, to the point I had to stop breastfeeding, he is also allergic to soy, and has the same reactions with both milk and soy, eczema (covering up to 75% of his body) and gas and diarrhea. I switched to goats milk myself as a first resort to try to see if I could continue to breastfeed with no improvement in him, then we tried soy formula with no luck. However he is not so sensitive that he can't have milk at all, because he's currently on alimentum with NO trouble at all. My point is that you may just have to try it and see. Like others said the proteins are still there but are smaller and may therefor be easier on the tummy, and raw milk is the best way to go if you can, again because there is more nutritional values and it is easier to digest. I've already talked to our pediatric GI about it and that will be the first thing we try at a year.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

My daughter had a skin allergy (not a stomach issue) with regular formula (BTW - I breastfed exclusively for 6 months until they told me she was allergic to so many things that it would be better to put her on formula than to avoid eating all the things she was allergic to). We gave her Nutrimagen until she was 1 but then had a big problem when we tried to switch her to milk. She seemed to have horrible painful stomach aches and cramps so then we did soymilk at the doctor's suggestions. After a few months of that we got concerned when we started reading all about the hormone problems that soy products cause so we switched to goat's milk. She is 3 years and 2 months and has been drinking goat's milk for almost 2 years. We are actually transitioning now to organic skim milk without incident. Also, when she was congested we would switch her to Vanilla Hemp which she also liked a lot. Good luck!



answers from Boca Raton on

Goats milk is great for your son if he's a goat! I don't see why you say it's your insurance if he's a picky eater. What does he eat?
There is this great stuff called amazing grass, they have a kidz (yes that's how they spell it, with a z) formula that you can buy in the store or at It's got all the vitamins, minerals, etc. My daughter loves it with rice milk. Someone mentioned hemp milk. If you get Pacific brand it doesn't have sugar in it, but I believe uses brown rice syrup so it doesn't then rob the body of zinc and other minerals. You can also make a yummy smoothie from the powder, some hemp milk and a bit of frozen fruit.
Hemp seeds are so wonderful and healthy. They contain all the omega 3, 6 AND 9 without harmful toxins like the fish oils do. Hemp seeds are full of protein too. Have you tried making quinoa for him? That's got all sorts of great stuff in it too. My daughter loves quinoa with some rice bran oil and hemp seeds on top. Sometime she'll also want some avocado too.
With your son being over 2 he may be interested in trying things after being offered several times.
Have you tried some steamed veggies and make a sauce for dipping made from tahini, lemon and some water.



answers from Boca Raton on

I used goat milk with both my boys. It took a little while for them to get used to the flavor. I would mix it with formula, slowly increasing the quantity. Once they were used to it, they loved it and would drink it all the time. Camel milk is also very good, but much harder to find and more expensive.



answers from Jacksonville on

Is your son lactose intolerant or does he have an actual milk protein allergy? That will be the deciding factor in whether he can tolerate goat's milk or not. Both of my children were not able to drink cow's milk, lactose free milk or even soy milk. My 2 year old drinks almond milk and my 13 month old is still on Nutramigen. We tried all the "milk alternatives" with no success. Goat's milk was actually the worst one for him. :/ Does the pediatric GI have any other suggestions for you? I spoke to a nutritionist when I was having issues with my youngest and they said he could be on Nutramigen for now. I know it is frustrating. I hope you're able to find a solution soon!



answers from Tampa on

The molecule in goat's milk is similiar to the size of mother's milk, easy to digest.
The problem in Florida is that you have to say that it is for your pet, in order to be able to buy it. Silly Florida- you can feed it to pets but not suppose to feed that wonderful food to people. Go figure.
best, k



answers from Miami on

In many cases goats milk will be OK for someone sensitive to cow's milk - you'd have to try it and see. Another option would be hemp milk or soy milk (though soy also causes sensitivity issues fairly often). Your child may also need probiotics to strengthen his digestive system.

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