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Healthy Start

Healthy Start is a national scheme that aims to help improve the health of pregnant women and families on benefits and low incomes.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a card that will be topped up every 4 weeks, you can use it in some UK shops and it can be spent on:

  • Plain cow’s milk
  • Plain fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Tinned fruit and vegetables
  • Infant formula suitable from birth
  • Plain tinned or dried pulses

You also use the card to get free vitamins that are specifically designed for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under four. Your health visitor or a member of your local Children’s Centre team can help you apply for Healthy Start.

Applying for Healthy Start

Applying for Healthy Start is easy – you can find the application form online. Currently you do not need to ask your midwife or health visitor to sign the form.

Who are they for?

The Healthy Start scheme is for pregnant women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old and you or your family get:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (only applicable whilst you are more than 10 weeks pregnant. Once the child is born you no longer qualify under this benefit)
  • Child Tax Credit with a family income of £16,190 or less per year
  • Pension Credit; or
  • Universal Credit with no earned income or total earned income of £408 or less per month for the family.

You are also eligible if you are under 18 and pregnant.

How much can you get?

The vouchers are worth £4.25, children under a year old get two £4.25 vouchers, worth £8.50 per week.

What can you spend them on?

The vouchers are worth £4.25 each. Children under one year old will get two £4.25 vouchers, worth £8.50 per week. Pregnant women and children aged between one and four years old can receive one voucher, worth £4.25 per week.

Pregnant women, women with a baby under 12 months, and children aged between a month and four years old who are receiving Healthy Start vouchers are also entitled to free Healthy Start Vitamins. You’ll find a green vitamin coupon attached to your Healthy Start vouchers every eight weeks.

How can you contact Healthy Start?

To contact Healthy Start, you can email or call 0300 330 7010.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly. You get most vitamins from a healthy balanced diet, but at certain times in your life – like when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you might need to boost your vitamin intake by taking a supplement to make sure you get everything you need.

What’s in the vitamin tablets and why are they important?

Healthy Start vitamins


The Healthy Start vitamins for women contain:

  • Folic acid, which reduces the chance of your baby having a birth defect called spina bifida, where the spine doesn’t form properly
  • Vitamin C, which helps your body tissues to stay healthy
  • Vitamin D, which helps your body to absorb the mineral calcium, needed for healthy bones

Healthy Start children’s vitamin drops contain:

  • Vitamin A, which is important for growth, being able to see in dim light and for healthy skin
  • Vitamin C, which helps maintain healthy tissue in the body
  • Vitamin D, which you need for strong bones and teeth

Healthy Start vitamins are HMC approved, meaning they are suitable for vegetarians and halal diets, and are also free from milk, egg, gluten, soya and peanut residues, so you can take them even if you’re allergic to these products.

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Page last reviewed: 11-01-2021

Next review due: 11-01-2024