Why Milk Turns Yellow: Causes and Signs

  • By: Alice Davis
  • Date: March 12, 2024
  • Time to read: 14 min.
Alice Davis
I'm Alice Davis, a fervent advocate for sustainable living and organic farming. With a profound connection to the land, I'm dedicated to sharing my knowledge and passion for wholesome agriculture through insightful articles and guides. Join me in nurturing a greener, more nourished world, harvest by harvest.

Milk turning yellow may be a cause for concern for many people. However, there are several reasons why milk can change color. It is important to understand the science behind milk discoloration and learn how to prevent it from happening.

Key Takeaways:

  • Milk can change color due to various factors, not just spoilage.
  • The health benefits of raw grass-fed milk contribute to its yellow color.
  • Breast milk can undergo color changes influenced by various factors.
  • Jaundice can cause yellow skin and eyes in babies.
  • Proper storage and handling practices can prevent milk discoloration.

The Health Benefits of Raw Grass-fed Milk

Raw grass-fed milk offers a variety of health benefits that contribute to its vibrant yellow color. This wholesome dairy product is packed with nutrients that support your overall well-being. Let’s explore some of the key health benefits of raw grass-fed milk:

1. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

Raw grass-fed milk is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fatty acid known for its numerous health benefits. Studies suggest that CLA may aid in weight loss by reducing body fat, especially in the abdominal area. Furthermore, CLA has been linked to the promotion of muscle-building and the maintenance of healthy bones.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Raw grass-fed milk contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids compared to conventional milk. These essential fatty acids are well-known for their positive impact on cardiovascular health. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and promote optimal heart function, ultimately reducing the risk of heart disease.

3. Beta Carotene

The yellow hue of raw grass-fed milk comes from the presence of beta carotene, a pigment found in plants. This natural compound acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body, protecting cells against damage from harmful free radicals. Beta carotene is also converted into vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision, boosting the immune system, and promoting the growth and repair of body tissues.

To get a clearer picture of the nutritional composition of raw grass-fed milk, take a look at the table below:

NutrientRaw Grass-fed MilkConventional Milk
CLAHigher levelsLower levels
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsAmple quantitiesLimited quantities
Beta CaroteneProminent presenceLess significant

As you can see, raw grass-fed milk outshines conventional milk when it comes to these essential nutrients. By incorporating raw grass-fed milk into your diet, you can harness its health-boosting properties and enjoy its creamy goodness.

Breast Milk Color Changes

Breast milk can be a fascinating subject, and its color can vary significantly. From its initial golden yellow hue to eventual shades of white, blue, green, pink, brown, or even black, these color changes are normal and can be influenced by various factors.

The composition of breast milk, the mother’s nutrition, medications, infections, and illness can all play a role in its color transformation. For instance, during the early stages of lactation, colostrum, the first milk produced by the mammary glands, often appears golden yellow. As lactation progresses, breast milk typically transitions to a white or creamy color, which is considered mature milk.

Color changes in breast milk can sometimes be surprising, but it’s essential to remember that they are generally harmless and part of the natural process. Understanding these variations can help put breastfeeding mothers at ease and assure them that their milk continues to provide optimal nutrition and benefits for their babies.

Factors Influencing Breast Milk Color Changes

  • Composition of breast milk
  • Mother’s nutrition
  • Medications
  • Infections
  • Illness

By considering and embracing the color changes in breast milk, mothers can rest assured that the variations are typically nothing to worry about. These changes are an indication that breast milk is continuously adapting to meet the needs of the growing baby, providing vital nutrients, antibodies, and other essential components for their development.

Golden YellowCommon in colostrum, the first milk produced. Rich in antibodies and protein.
WhiteTypical appearance of mature breast milk. Contains a balanced mixture of nutrients.
Blue, Green, PinkMay occur due to the transfer of food dyes or pigments from the mother’s diet.
Brown, BlackRare, but can be caused by the presence of blood in breast milk.

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Breastfeeding and Yellow Milk

When it comes to breastfeeding, it’s not uncommon for mothers to notice their milk turning yellow. This change in color can be attributed to two important stages of breastfeeding: colostrum and transitional milk.

Colostrum: The Liquid Gold

Colostrum is the first milk produced by a mother’s breasts during the initial few days after giving birth. It has a rich yellow color and is often referred to as “liquid gold.” This yellow milk is packed with beneficial immune factors that play a crucial role in protecting and nourishing the newborn.

Colostrum contains high levels of antibodies, white blood cells, and immunoglobulins. These components are essential for the baby’s developing immune system as they help fight off infections and diseases. The yellow color of colostrum signifies its powerful concentration of protective properties.

Transitional Milk: A Bridge to Full Breast Milk

As colostrum transitions to mature milk, another change in color can occur. This transition is known as the transitional milk stage. During this time, the milk may appear yellowish or creamy in color. Transitional milk is an essential bridge between colostrum and mature breast milk.

Similar to colostrum, transitional milk continues to provide immune-boosting factors that support the baby’s developing immune system. It contains higher levels of fat, lactose, and vitamins. The yellow hue of the milk during this stage signifies the presence of these vital nutrients.

Breastfeeding: A Source of Protection

By breastfeeding their infants, mothers provide a powerful form of protection against infections and diseases. Breast milk, including both colostrum and transitional milk, bolsters the baby’s immune system, helping them fight off harmful pathogens.

Research has shown that breast milk contains antibodies, enzymes, and white blood cells that actively work to fight infection, keeping the baby healthy and reducing their risk of illnesses. The yellow color of breast milk during these early stages is a visible reminder of its potent immune-boosting properties.

In addition to its immune-protective benefits, breastfeeding also aids in reducing the levels of bilirubin in babies with jaundice. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that can build up in the bloodstream, causing the characteristic yellowing of the skin and eyes. Breastfeeding helps hydrate the baby and promotes the elimination of bilirubin, facilitating their recovery from jaundice.

Benefits of Breastfeeding and Yellow Milk
Boosts the baby’s immune system
Provides protection against infections and diseases
Reduces the risk of illnesses
Helps babies with jaundice by reducing bilirubin levels

Embrace the yellow color of your breast milk as a symbol of its incredible power to protect and nourish your baby. Breastfeeding provides countless benefits for both mother and child, establishing a strong foundation for their lifelong health and well-being.

Jaundice in Babies

Jaundice is a common condition in newborn babies where their skin and eyes develop a yellow color due to an excess of bilirubin in the blood. This yellowish discoloration can be concerning for parents, but it is usually a temporary and harmless condition.

Breast milk jaundice is a specific type of jaundice that occurs in babies who are breastfeeding. It is believed to be caused by a substance in breast milk that prevents the liver from breaking down bilirubin effectively. This can lead to a build-up of bilirubin in the baby’s system, resulting in yellow skin and eyes.

Genetic factors and blood type incompatibilities between the mother and baby can also play a role in the development of jaundice. Some babies may have inherited a condition that affects the way their liver processes bilirubin, making them more susceptible to developing jaundice.

Signs of Jaundice

Jaundice is typically noticeable within the first few days of a baby’s life. The most common sign is yellowing of the skin and eyes, starting from the face and spreading to other parts of the body. Other symptoms may include:

  • Excessive sleepiness or lethargy
  • Poor feeding or difficulty sucking
  • Fussiness or irritability
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

Diagnosis of Jaundice

Diagnosing jaundice in babies usually involves a physical examination and a blood test to measure the levels of bilirubin in the blood. Healthcare professionals may use a device called a transcutaneous bilirubinometer to assess the severity of jaundice without drawing blood.

Treatment of Jaundice

In most cases, jaundice in babies resolves on its own without treatment. However, if the bilirubin levels are high or continue to rise, treatment may be necessary to prevent complications. The most common treatment for jaundice is phototherapy, where the baby is placed under special lights that help break down bilirubin in the skin. In severe cases, when phototherapy is not effective, other treatments such as exchange transfusion may be considered.

Table: Risk Factors for Jaundice in Newborns

Risk FactorsDescription
Premature birthBabies born before 37 weeks of gestation have a higher risk of developing jaundice.
Blood type incompatibilityA baby with a different blood type than the mother may be at increased risk of jaundice.
Genetic factorsSome babies may have inherited a genetic condition that affects bilirubin processing.
BreastfeedingBreast milk jaundice can occur in babies who are exclusively breastfed.

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In conclusion, jaundice is a common condition in newborn babies, characterized by yellowish skin and eyes due to elevated levels of bilirubin. Breast milk jaundice is a specific type of jaundice that can occur in babies who are breastfeeding. It is important to monitor jaundice symptoms and seek appropriate medical care if necessary. Most cases of jaundice resolve on their own, but in some cases, treatment may be required to prevent complications.

Signs and Diagnosis of Jaundice

If you suspect jaundice in yourself or your baby, it’s important to recognize the signs and seek a proper diagnosis. The main indicator of jaundice is the yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes, starting on the face and gradually spreading to other parts of the body.

In addition to yellow skin and eyes, there are other symptoms that may accompany jaundice. These include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Fussiness

If you observe any of these signs, it’s crucial to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Diagnosis is typically done through a physical examination and a blood test to measure the levels of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a pigment that causes the yellow coloration associated with jaundice.

Diagnosing Jaundice

“Jaundice is suspected when a person presents with yellow skin or yellow eyes. A blood test is used to measure bilirubin levels in order to confirm the diagnosis.” – Dr. Emily Smith, Pediatrician

The blood test, known as a bilirubin test, provides an accurate measure of bilirubin levels in the blood. This test helps determine the severity of jaundice and guides the appropriate course of treatment.

It’s important to note that diagnosing jaundice and determining its underlying cause should be done by a medical professional. Early detection and proper diagnosis can ensure timely and appropriate management of the condition.

Signs of JaundiceDiagnosis
Yellow skin and eyesPhysical examination
SleepinessBlood test
Feeding difficulties

Treatment of Breast Milk Jaundice

Breast milk jaundice is a common condition that usually resolves on its own without needing treatment. However, in cases where bilirubin levels become too high, treatment may be necessary to prevent any complications. There are several treatment options available for breast milk jaundice, depending on the severity of the condition.


Phototherapy is a commonly used treatment for breast milk jaundice. During phototherapy, your baby will be placed under special lights that emit a specific type of light spectrum. This light helps to break down bilirubin in the bloodstream, making it easier for the body to eliminate it. Phototherapy is a safe and effective treatment that can significantly reduce bilirubin levels in the baby’s body. It is usually carried out in a hospital or under the supervision of a healthcare professional.


Ensuring that your baby is well-hydrated is another important aspect of the treatment for breast milk jaundice. Adequate hydration helps to flush out excess bilirubin through urine and stools. It is essential to encourage frequent breastfeeding or bottle-feeding to ensure that your baby receives enough fluids. Your healthcare provider may also recommend supplementing with additional fluids if necessary.

Immunoglobulin or Exchange Blood Transfusion

In rare cases where the bilirubin levels are extremely high or the jaundice is severe, your healthcare provider may consider other treatment options. This may include administering immunoglobulin, which helps to reduce the breakdown of red blood cells and the production of bilirubin. In more severe cases, an exchange blood transfusion may be necessary. This procedure involves replacing the baby’s blood with donor blood to lower the bilirubin levels.

Treatment for breast milk jaundice is typically carried out under medical supervision, and the specific course of treatment will depend on the individual circumstances. It is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your baby.

Preventing Milk Discoloration

To prevent milk from turning yellow or experiencing other forms of discoloration, it is important to store milk properly. Follow these tips to maintain the freshness and white color of milk:

  1. Keep it at the right temperature: Store milk in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40°F (4°C). This helps slow down the growth of bacteria that can cause spoilage and discoloration.
  2. Protect it from exposure to light: Milk is sensitive to light, especially ultraviolet (UV) light, which can hasten its discoloration. Keep milk in opaque containers or store it in a dark place to prevent exposure to light.
  3. Avoid exposure to air: Oxygen in the air can degrade the quality of milk and cause it to turn yellow. Make sure milk containers are tightly sealed to prevent air from entering.
  4. Minimize exposure to odors: Milk easily absorbs odors from other foods in the refrigerator. Store milk away from strong-smelling substances, such as onions or garlic, to prevent it from acquiring unwanted odors.

By following these proper storage practices, you can enjoy fresh and white milk for a longer period.

Note: Taking care of milk storage can prevent discoloration and ensure the milk’s quality and freshness.

How to Keep Milk Fresh and White

To ensure your milk stays fresh and maintains its pure white color, proper refrigeration is key. It is important to store milk at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) to prevent spoilage and maintain its freshness.

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Using airtight containers is another effective way to keep milk fresh. These containers help protect the milk from exposure to air and odors, which can contribute to discoloration. By sealing the milk in an airtight container, you can extend its shelf life and preserve its pristine white appearance.

Avoiding temperature fluctuations is equally important in maintaining the freshness and color of your milk. Fluctuations in temperature can accelerate milk spoilage and lead to unwanted color changes. Therefore, it is essential to store milk in a consistent, cool environment to ensure its optimal quality.

By following these simple tips for proper refrigeration, using airtight containers, and avoiding temperature fluctuations, you can keep your milk fresh and white for longer, ensuring that every sip is a delight.

Key Tips to Keep Milk Fresh and White:
Refrigerate milk at temperatures below 40°F (4°C)
Store milk in airtight containers to prevent exposure to air and odors
Avoid temperature fluctuations to prevent milk spoilage and color changes


In conclusion, milk discoloration is a natural occurrence that can happen due to various factors. Raw grass-fed milk, rich in beneficial compounds such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and beta carotene, may exhibit a yellow color. Similarly, breast milk can undergo color changes, ranging from golden yellow to white or even black, which are influenced by factors like the mother’s nutrition and the milk’s composition.

While jaundice in babies can cause yellow skin and eyes, breastfeeding is generally safe and beneficial. Breast milk, especially colostrum and transitional milk, is rich in immune factors that help fight infection and support the baby’s immune system. Additionally, breastfeeding provides hydration and aids in reducing bilirubin levels, addressing jaundice in infants.

To prevent milk from turning yellow or experiencing other forms of discoloration, it’s important to store and handle it properly. This includes storing milk at the right temperature, protecting it from light, air, and strong odors. By following these practices, you can ensure milk’s freshness and preserve its health benefits.


Why does milk turn yellow?

Milk can turn yellow due to various reasons, including the presence of beneficial compounds in raw grass-fed milk or normal color changes in breast milk.

What causes milk to change color?

Milk can change color due to factors such as the presence of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and beta carotene in raw grass-fed milk or the composition and nutrition of breast milk.

How can I prevent milk from turning yellow?

Proper storage and handling practices, such as refrigerating milk at the right temperature and protecting it from exposure to light, air, and strong odors, can help prevent milk from turning yellow.

What are the health benefits of raw grass-fed milk?

Raw grass-fed milk contains beneficial compounds such as CLA and omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have weight loss, muscle-building, and cardiovascular benefits. The yellow color of raw grass-fed milk is due to the presence of beta carotene.

Why does breast milk change color?

Breast milk can undergo color changes due to factors such as the composition of the milk, the mother’s nutrition, medications, infections, and illness. These color changes are normal and can range from golden yellow to white, blue, green, pink, brown, or black depending on the stage of breastfeeding and the presence of colostrum or mature milk.

Is yellow breast milk normal?

Yes, yellow breast milk is normal, especially during the colostrum and transitional milk stages. These stages are rich in immune factors that help fight infection in both the mother and the infant.

Does breastfeeding cause jaundice in babies?

Breastfeeding itself does not cause jaundice in babies. However, breast milk jaundice is a type of jaundice that can occur in breastfed babies. It is thought to be caused by a substance in breast milk that limits the breakdown of bilirubin. Genetic factors and blood type incompatibilities between the mother and baby may also contribute to jaundice.

What are the signs of jaundice in babies?

The main sign of jaundice in babies is yellowing of the skin and eyes, starting on the face and spreading to other body parts. Other symptoms may include sleepiness, feeding difficulties, and fussiness.

How is jaundice diagnosed?

Jaundice can be diagnosed by a doctor through a physical examination and a blood test to measure the levels of bilirubin in the blood.

How is breast milk jaundice treated?

Breast milk jaundice usually resolves on its own without treatment. However, if bilirubin levels become too high, treatment options may include phototherapy, hydration, and in rare cases, immunoglobulin or exchange blood transfusion.

How do I store milk to prevent discoloration?

To prevent milk from turning yellow or experiencing other forms of discoloration, it is important to store milk properly by refrigerating it at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) and using airtight containers to protect it from air and odors.

How can I keep milk fresh and white?

To keep milk fresh and white, it is crucial to refrigerate it properly, use airtight containers, and avoid temperature fluctuations, as they can contribute to milk spoilage and color changes.