Small child drinking milkMilk

Milk and dairy products are great sources of energy and protein – and have lots of vitamins and minerals, like calcium, which kids need to build healthy bones and teeth.

You can use your Healthy Start vouchers to buy powdered infant formula milk or any kind of heat-treated plain cow’s milk – whole, semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed. Heat-treated milks are miks that say pasteurised, sterilised or long-life (UHT) on the carton or bottle.

Remember: you can’t buy soya milk, goat’s milk, or ‘milks’ made from rice, oats or almonds with your vouchers. You also can’t spend them on soya formula – which you should only give to your baby if your doctor, health visitor or dietitian has advised you to, goat’s milk formula, or follow-on formula (labelled as suitable for use from six months).

What milk is best for my baby (0–12 months)?

  • Breast milk is the only thing a baby needs until they are about six months old. But if you are not breastfeeding, you can use your Healthy Start vouchers to buy powdered infant formula milk – this will always say ‘suitable from birth’ on the package. Infant formula milk is suitable for all babies under 12 months old. Keep feeding your baby breast milk or infant formula alongside a variety of solid foods until they are one year old.
  • At around six months, when your baby starts on solids, you can mix whole (full-fat) cow’s milk with your baby’s food, but never give cows milk as a drink until they are over 12 months old.
  • Never give babies under 12 months condensed, evaporated or dried milk; sheep’s or goat’s milk; or any ‘milks’ made from rice, oats or almonds.

Remember: if you do decide to bottle feed your baby, make sure that you follow the advice on safe bottle feeding.

What milk is best for my toddler (12-24 months years)?

  • You can continue to breastfeed while offering your child a range of solid foods.
  • You can give your child whole (full-fat) cow’s milk as a drink from one year old.
  • At this age, children need at least 300ml of milk a day (just over half a pint) to make sure that they get enough calcium.
  • Never give your child semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk, because these don’t contain enough calories or essential vitamins for children of this age.

What milk is best for my child (2–5 years)?

  • At this age, children can drink whole or semi-skimmed milk, but not skimmed or 1% milk as they don’t provide enough calories. If your child doesn’t like milk, it’s important to try to include other dairy foods in their diet such as yoghurt or cheese, but don’t give them lower-fat versions.

What milk is best if I’m pregnant?

If you’re buying milk for yourself, try semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk – they have all the calcium found in whole milk but less fat, helping you avoid putting on too much weight during your pregnancy.

For more information:

NHS Choices: Milk (England)

Start4Life (Wales)

Birth to five (Northern Ireland)

DHSSPS Logo NHS Wales Logo NHS Scotland Logo NHS England Logo