The Best Goat Milk Formula: Kabrita Review (+ Free Sample)May 17, 2021
You might have noticed that goat milk formulas are getting a lot of buzz in the formula-feeding space recently.
This is for good reason!
Read on to learn the basics of how goat milk compares to cow milk, why goat's milk is a great option as a base for formula, and why I prefer Kabrita goat milk formula to other goat milk-based formula options.
Goat's Milk Vs. Cow's Milk
Most infant formulas in the U.S. and abroad are made with cow's milk. Cow's milk is widely available, is reasonably priced, and contains some of the features found naturally in breast milk. Given these qualities, formula manufacturers routinely use cow's milk to provide both the protein needed in infant formulas as well as the carb source (lactose). Using cow's milk as a base for formula has been rigorously studied for decades and is therefore recommended as the default option for most infants.
Cow's milk and goat's milk differ in a few key ways, however. First, cow's milk has a higher percentage of lactose (around 5%) compared to goat's milk (around 4.2%). More importantly, goat's milk has a gentler protein structure. While both goat's milk and cow's milk contain roughly 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein, the type and function of the casein protein varies meaningfully between the two.
Without getting too complicated, casein protein can be isolated into 4 subtypes. Of these, we'll look at two: Alpha S1 casein and beta-casein.
Alpha S1 Casein and Curd Quality
You know the "Little Miss Muffet" nursery rhyme about curds and whey? The Alpha S1 casein protein in milk is what leads to curds! These solid, insoluble bits of protein (which are created in the belly after drinking cow's milk) can be large, dense, and difficult to digest, especially for infants. Goat's milk produces curds that are naturally looser and softer compared to cow's milk, increasing digestibility.
A1 versus A2 Beta-Casein
Another sub-type of casein protein is beta-casein, and within this subtype we see two distinct versions: A1 beta-casein and A2 beta-casein. While nearly all mammals (including humans!) produce almost exclusively A2 beta-casein protein, a genetic mutation dating back thousands of years means that most cows produce both A1 and A2 beta-casein.
Many symptoms of sensitivity to milk, including digestive discomfort, is thought to be related to the A1 beta-casein in cow's milk. You can learn more about how A1 beta-casein protein reacts in the body here! Given that goat milk naturally contains A2 beta-casein proteins, goat's milk is typically considered easier to digest than cow's milk.
Goat Milk as a Base for Formula
The goal of infant formula is to mimic the composition of breastmilk as closely as possible while providing key nutrients to ensure healthy growth and development. Given that the protein structure of goat's milk is naturally more similar to what's found in breastmilk (both in terms of curd quality and type of beta-casein), goat's milk is a natural fit as the base for formula.
While there has historically been concern about the appropriateness of goat's milk for infants (particularly around risk of anemia), it's important to remember that goat milk formulas have been fortified and adapted to provide all of the macronutrients and micronutrients a baby needs. No animal milk is appropriate for infants, on its own, outside of breastmilk! All formulas are adapted, regardless of what type of milk they use.
What Makes Kabrita the Best Goat Milk Formula
Of the goat milk formulas on the market, I routinely recommend Kabrita goat milk formula as my first choice. Why? Because the composition of Kabrita is very close to the composition of breastmilk! Let's break down why...
Mature breast milk has a ratio of approximately 60% whey protein to 40% casein protein. Goat milk, on its own, has a ratio of only 20% whey to 80% casein protein. Kabrita adapts their formula with extra whey to create a 50/50 whey to casein ratio making it much more similar to the protein composition of breastmilk. Many goat milk formulas choose to omit added whey (given its relative expense), and this can lead to constipation and digestive upset. Kabrita's added whey makes it a gentle option for tiny tummies!
Roughly 40% of the calories in formula must come from carbohydrates, as infants need lots of energy for their rapid development! The carbohydrate source found naturally in breastmilk, lactose (also known as "milk sugar"), is the ideal source of carbs for formula as well. Kabrita uses 100% lactose to power their formula, while many other goat milk formulas use lactose in combination with another carbohydrate like maltodextrin. If you're looking for a formula that includes only the predominant carb source in breastmilk, Kabrita has it!
All formulas contain a blend of plant-based oils to provide both calories and important fatty acids. The fatty acid profile of breastmilk includes abundant palmitic acid, and as a result, many formulas use palm oil (or palm olein) in their recipe to provide similar amounts of this important compound. Unfortunately, concerns about palm oil abound, related both to environmental sustainability in sourcing and to the effect on the developing gut in infants.
Conventional palm oil can lead to the creation of "calcium soaps" in the intestines; these accumulations of calcium can cause both constipation and problems with fat and calcium absorption. As a result, some formulas have begun removing palm oil from their ingredients list.
Kabrita has outsmarted the palm oil problem by using an oil blend with beta-palmitate instead of palm olein. Beta-palmitate provides crucial palmitic acid without causing the issues associated with palm oil. You can learn more about Kabrita's oil blend here!
"Nice to have" optional ingredients
Kabrita USA Toddler formula meets the F.D.A. nutrient requirements for an infant formula, which means it's packed full of 22 essential vitamins and minerals. Kabrita also includes three ingredients that the F.D.A. does NOT require but that are naturally found in breastmilk! These "nice to have" extras include D.H.A. and ARA (essential omega fatty acids important for brain development and eye health) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), a type of prebiotic fiber that promotes the proliferation of good bacteria in the gut for a healthy gut microbiome.
Non-GMO, European-crafted quality
Given that you can buy Kabrita in stores in the U.S., you may not know that Kabrita goat milk formula is produced in the Netherlands! As a result, Kabrita meets European formula quality guidelines about the use of antibiotics and hormones, and Kabrita is non-GMO according to E.U. standards. One of the benefits of non-GMO farming is the reduced risk of pesticide residue in your final product. In fact, Kabrita is the only formula in the US to be certified glyphosate-free!
Unique texture for easy mixability
I don't know how they do it but the texture of Kabrita is so smooth. The powder is very fine and dissolves quickly and easily. It does not foam or bubble much when mixed! This underappreciated attribute makes it a great choice for infants who struggle with gas or reflux as a foamy formula can make these symptoms worse.
Benefits of Kabrita Goat Milk Formula
We used Kabrita with our son during his infancy and it was a great fit for us! Kabrita might be right for your family if:
- You're looking for a European-crafted formula that's sold in the U.S.
- You want a formula that's naturally gentle for tiny tummies
- You believe that a goat milk-based formula is the right choice for your baby
- Your little has a sensitivity to cow milk protein but NOT a diagnosed allergy
- You're interested in a formula that uses 100% lactose as the carb source
If this sounds like you, be sure to check out Kabrita's FREE trial kit offer! This goodie box comes with a sample of the goat milk formula, a sachet of their oatmeal porridge, a bag of goat cheese puffs (my kids fight over these!) plus coupons for your next purchase. This offer is a $30 value and you just pay shipping.
If you're feeling frustrated with cow milk-based formulas and want to try something new, Kabrita is a great option. I love that you can buy it locally (which means avoiding the risk of importing directly from Europe!), and I love that the goat's milk base is naturally gentle while closely mimicking the composition of breastmilk.
Affiliate disclosure: Some of the links contained in this blog post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for sharing them. This is at no cost to you!