Cow Milk vs Buffalo Milk – Which is Good For Babies & Toddlers
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Mother’s milk is the best thing for a baby, as with a still-developing immune system, she would best be able to digest her mother’s milk. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommends and promotes breast milk as the ultimate nutrition for a baby. However, if breastfeeding is not possible, or the baby’s demand for milk cannot be met, cow or buffalo milk can also be given after the baby turns one. Cow milk contains essential nutrients for a baby’s growth, including protein, calcium, and vitamins. It is easily digestible for most infants and provides a good balance of nutrients. Buffalo milk is less commonly consumed but is prevalent in certain regions. It has a higher fat and protein content than cow milk, making it thicker and creamier. Read more about the comparative differences between cow and buffalo milk for babies and toddlers.
Video : Cow Milk Vs Buffalo Milk – Which Is Better for Babies and Toddlers?
When to Introduce Cow or Buffalo Milk to Your Child?
Infants have a developing immune system which is not strong. Hence, they may find it difficult to digest animal milk. Though cow and buffalo milk contain minerals and proteins, they are not suited for infants as they can affect their kidneys if introduced before one year. Thus, the best time to introduce them to your baby is after she turns one. In any case, you must make sure that your baby isn’t allergic to lactose or specifically to cow/buffalo milk. Always consult a pediatric dietician before feeding your child anything other than breast milk.
How to Prepare Bottle Feeds Using Cow or Buffalo Milk for Your Child?
Preparing bottle feeds using cow or buffalo milk for your child requires careful attention to hygiene and proper preparation techniques. Here are some essential points to keep in mind:
1. Sterilisation: Ensure all bottles, nipples, and other feeding equipment are thoroughly sterilised before each use. This helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and reduces the risk of infections.
2. Milk Selection: Choose fresh, pasteurised cow or buffalo milk from a reliable source. Avoid using raw or unpasteurised milk, as it may contain harmful bacteria that can be unsafe for your baby.
3. Dilution: If you are using cow or buffalo milk for infants under the age of one year, it is necessary to dilute the milk with boiled and cooled water. Follow the recommended ratio provided by your healthcare professional or the packaging instructions of infant formula as a guide. Ideally, cow milk should not be given to babies under a year old. So, consulting a doctor before giving your less-than-a-year-old baby cow milk is a safer way to their health.
4. Boiling: Boil the milk and water separately before preparing the feed. Allow them to cool down to room temperature before mixing them. This helps eliminate any potential bacteria present in the milk or water.
5. Mixing and Testing: Pour the required amount of boiled and cooled water into a sterilised bottle, then add the appropriate amount of diluted cow or buffalo milk. Shake the bottle gently to mix the contents. Always check the temperature of the feed on the inside of your wrist to ensure it is lukewarm and safe for your baby to consume.
Cow Milk or Buffalo Milk – Which Is Better?
1. Fat content
Cow milk has lower fat content than buffalo milk. Hence, cow milk is thinner in consistency as compared to buffalo milk. Your 1-year-old infant would find it easier to digest cow milk than buffalo milk.
Buffalo milk has a higher percentage of protein content than cow milk (approximately 11% more). This high protein content generates heat resistance and is difficult for babies to digest. Hence, cow milk is more soothing for a baby’s system. If you still wish to feed your baby buffalo milk, do so in small quantities.
Buffalo milk is a rich source of calcium essential for the development of the bones. Children need calcium for their overall growth and to develop strength and height. Hence, as a source of calcium, buffalo milk is better for children above one year of age.
4. Calorific value
Cow milk is lower in calories than buffalo milk – thus, buffalo milk can enrich infants over one year old.
The water content in cow milk is higher than in buffalo milk. Hence, consuming cow milk can be beneficial as it can keep your baby hydrated.
6. Consumption Window
Buffalo milk can be preserved naturally for longer due to high peroxidase activity, while cow’s milk should ideally be consumed within 1-2 days.
Cow milk is generally considered more easily digestible than buffalo milk. The fat globules in cow milk are smaller and easier to break down, making it lighter on the stomach. With its larger fat globules, buffalo milk may be harder to digest for some babies, especially those with lactose intolerance or digestive sensitivities.
8. Taste and Texture
The taste and texture of cow milk and buffalo milk differ. Buffalo milk is known for its richer, creamier taste, while cow milk has a milder flavour. The choice between the two depends on personal preference and the intended use. Buffalo milk’s distinct taste can be desirable in specific culinary applications.
Each baby is unique, and their digestion capabilities vary. Buffalo milk for infants may be preferred as it is richer in fat content, protein, calcium, and calorific value, making it more beneficial than cow milk. However, it may be difficult for an infant to digest it. Cow milk is easier to digest and keeps the baby more hydrated. As a mother, you can try both in small quantities and see which suits your baby better. However, for some babies, dairy milk may not be suitable due to various reasons. Some babies may digest formula milk better than cow or buffalo milk. (3)Always consult your paediatrician regarding choosing the right milk for your toddler.
Tips to Introduce Milk to Your Toddler
- Start with giving your baby/toddler milk during mealtimes only.
- If your baby doesn’t like the taste, mix it with breast milk or formula and see how she reacts.
- Start off slow. Remember that after one year of age, milk will be a part of the toddler’s meal and not the entire meal itself.
- Watch out for signs of allergy to milk. If you notice symptoms like swelling of the lips, rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea, or blood in the stools, immediately and rush to the doctor.
- Consult your doctor before you start feeding your child milk regularly.
1. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Milk- Which One Is Good for Your Toddler?
Ideally, toddlers can be fed whole milk as it can provide your baby with high-fat content that helps with weight gain. It even helps absorb vitamin A and D. Low-fat or fat-free milk is richer in proteins and minerals, which are challenging for babies and toddlers to digest and can affect their kidneys. After two years; you can feed your child low-fat or fat-free milk.
2. Organic vs Hormone-Free Cow Milk for Toddler – Which Is Best?
There is no evidence that organic milk or hormone-free milk is a better option for toddlers. However, if you introduce your baby to cow milk, you can go for the organic variant – it may pinch your pocket harder. Most importantly, the milk needs to be pasteurised before consumption. Unpasteurised animal milk contains parasites and bacteria that can harm your child. There have been incidents of children falling severely ill after consuming unpasteurised milk, which has led to the loss of life.
So, while breastfeeding is best for your child, cow and buffalo milk can be used as substitutes after your young one completes a year. While introducing animal milk, you must consider the important aspects like its effect on the kidneys, pasteurisation, and how often you clean the feeding bottle. Milk is a major source of calcium, so it must be included in your baby’s diet judiciously. While buffalo and cow milk for a newborn may have benefits, it is always important to consult your doctor before adding it to your baby’s diet.
1. Infant Feeding Guide; University of Rochester; https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=90&contentid=P02694
2. Haug. A, Hostmark. AT, Harstad. OM; Bovine milk in human nutrition – a review; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2039733/; September 2007
3. Why Do Infants Need Baby Formula Instead of Cow’s Milk?; healthychildren.org; https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/formula-feeding/Pages/Why-Formula-Instead-of-Cows-Milk.aspx
4. Mansson. H. L; Fatty acids in bovine milk fat; Food & Nutrition Research; https://foodandnutritionresearch.net/index.php/fnr/article/view/1134
5. Ehrlich. JM, Catania. J, Zaman. M, et al.; The Effect of Consumption of Animal Milk Compared to Infant Formula for Non-Breastfed/Mixed-Fed Infants 6–11 Months of Age: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8838240/; February 2022
6. Mayuri. M, Garg. V, Mukherji. C, et al.; Bovine milk usage and feeding practices for Infants in India; PubMed Central; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22684180/; January 2012
7. Khattak. MMAK; Growth Performance of a Neonate Exclusively Fed on Buffalo Milk: A Case Study; ResearchGate; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/46032450_Growth_Performance_of_a_Neonate_Exclusively_Fed_on_Buffalo_Milk_A_Case_Study; January 2003