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What is the Healthy Start Scheme

Find out everything you need to know about the Healthy Start Scheme and how to apply.

    3-minutes read


    We all need to eat healthily whenever we can, of course. Eating your greens every day is great for your physical and mental health. And it’s just as important for your little one as well. Getting your baby or toddler off to a great start with lots of healthy food is crucial for their early development. And you’re going to need all your strength and energy to keep up with your child too!

    The good news is you may be eligible to receive some financial assistance when it comes to shopping for fruit, veg, milk and first infant formula for you and your family. The Healthy Start scheme is there to help, and lots of mums to be and families find it really useful to top up their shop every week.

    Here’s more about the Healthy Start scheme and how you might be eligible to apply.

    What is the Healthy Start scheme and card?

    The Healthy Start scheme provides eligible people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a payment card which can be used to add food, such as fruit, veg, plain liquid cow’s milk and infant formula milk based on cow’s milk, fresh, dried, and tinned pulses to your grocery shopping.

    • Healthy Start is an NHS scheme aimed at giving children under four and pregnant mums a helping hand

    • If you’re eligible and after applying, you’ll be sent a payment card with funds already loaded on it. You can put the money towards food specified by the Healthy Start scheme when you go shopping every week

    • There’s a slightly different scheme in Scotland. Click here for more details

    Who can apply for the Healthy Start scheme and card?

    There are lots of different people from different backgrounds taking advantage of the Healthy Start scheme. Just see it as a helpful extra pair of hands when you need it most. You can apply for a Healthy Start payment card;

    If you are at least ten weeks pregnant or if you have a child under four, and if and you or a family member receive:

    • Child Tax Credit (if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)

    • Income Support

    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

    • Pension Credit (including the child addition)

    • Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)

    • You may still be eligible if you have some savings

    How do I apply for a Healthy Start card?

    It’s straightforward to apply!

    • Just visit the Healthy Start website at

    • You can also ask your GP or midwife to help or call 0345 607 6823

    • If you’re under 18, call the Healthy Start scheme on 0300 330 7010

    • If you already use Healthy Start vouchers, you’ll be contacted to apply for the new payment card

    What happens after I apply for the Healthy Start card?

    Once you’ve applied and if you’re eligible, your healthy start card will arrive in the post about seven days after your application. Each week the card will be loaded with;

    • £4.25 after your 10th week of pregnancy

    • £8.50 each week for children aged 0-1 and

    • • £4.25 for children aged 1-4.


    What can I buy with my Healthy Start card?

    Here is a list of the things you can purchase under the Healthy Start scheme:

    • Fresh, frozen or tinned fruit

    • Fresh, frozen or tinned vegetables and pulses (things like lentils, peas, beans or barley)

    • Plain liquid cows’ milk

    • First Infant formula milk, based on cows’ milk

    You can also use it on Healthy start vitamins to support you through pregnancy and breastfeeding and on vitamin D drops for your baby or young children up to the age of 4.

    Where can I use my Healthy Start card?

    Anywhere which accepts Mastercard payments and sells the products you’re looking to buy i.e. First infant formula, fruit, vegetables and milk.

    How can I receive free Healthy Start vitamins?

    We know how important getting in all the right vitamins and minerals when you’re pregnant or feeding a little one can be. You can get hold of free Healthy Start vitamins for pregnancy, and Healthy Start vitamin drops for children using your Healthy Start card. Just show your card at your nearest outlet. Find yours here.

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    IMPORTANT NOTICE: We believe that breastfeeding is the ideal nutritional start for babies, and we fully support the World Health Organization’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life followed by the introduction of adequate nutritious complementary foods along with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age. We also recognise that breastfeeding is not always an option for parents. We recommend that you speak to your healthcare professional about how to feed your baby and seek advice on when to introduce complementary feeding. If you choose not to breastfeed, please remember that such a decision can be difficult to reverse and has social and financial implications. Introducing partial bottle-feeding will reduce the supply of breast milk. Infant formula should always be prepared, used and stored as instructed on the label in order to avoid risks to a baby’s health.


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