Breast milk's unique composition makes it the best option for feeding your little one - but that doesn't mean there aren't great alternatives available, too! If you're not able to breastfeed your baby or you run low on breast milk, you'll likely want to find something that is as close as possible to the real thing. We were interested in doing just that, so we did a little research on the closest milk to breast milk (and have some experience to go along with it) and are sharing it here with you:
Because babies grow so much in the early months of their lives, they have high nutritional needs. They're using so much energy to move and react to their environment, not to mention their digestion system, metabolism, excretory functions and immune system are getting off to a running start. This is why it's important to really consider what your little one is ingesting. That little body is relying heavily on you to give it what it needs!
In general, substituting breast milk with a raw animal (non human-mammalian) or plant milk is not recommended. Numerous studies show that these types of milk do not meet the nutritional requirements of babies. Whole cream cow's milk, for instance, has a high protein and mineral level, which is a lot for babies' kidneys to handle. It also lacks iron, iodine, and vitamins. The nutrients in goat's milk are similar to those in cow's milk, but it's missing folic acid and vitamin B12.
The milk of sheep has more energy, protein, fat, and minerals than breast milk, while the protein components parallel those in cow and goat milk. Compared to other animal milks, the milk of a mare is the closest to human breast milk from a nutritional standpoint, but it has a different mineral content and a low amount of energy.
Moving from animal to plant milks, these options do not fulfill the nutritional needs of a growing babies. Among other things, plant milks significantly lack vitamins and minerals. There are some exceptions such as specific soy formulas, but in general, plant work is not a suitable alternative to breast milk.
For all of these reasons, feeding your baby with a substitute non human-mammalian milk is not a good idea; even the ones closest to human breast milk are still lacking in other important components.
So now that we've covered what isn't a good substitute for breast milk, let's take a look at what is. Industrially produced, 100% organic infant formulas are the best alternative to breast milk. Most of these formulas cannot actually recreate the bioactive substances, cholesterol, and enzymes found in breast milk, nor can they naturally adapt to babies' different growth stages - but they're a pretty good imitation and are the best milk for babies besides the real thing. And the different stages of formula that are available meet babies' needs throughout their growth.
Although industrially manufactured infant formulas improve every day to meet babies' nutritional needs, many non-organic formulas still contain harmful ingredients. Even organic formulas produced in the U.S. include ingredients that are banned in Europe. To avoid exposing your baby to these dangerous elements, always be sure to read the formula's label carefully.
In conclusion, whether you choose to feed your baby formulas based on cow's, goat's or sheep's milk, try to always choose an organic brand, ideally manufactured in Europe so it doesn't include harmful ingredients that U.S. organic formulas still permit.
European Formulas such as Holle, HiPP, and Lebenswert are tightly controlled and meet specific requirements and standards that cannot be compared to U.S. formulas making them the formula closest to breast milk. While some mothers prefer formula based on goat's milk, as it can cause fewer allergies, others prefer cow's milk. Our suggestion: feed your little one and find out what works best for you!
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