Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

Healthcare professionals

Your role

Healthcare professionals play a key role in the application process and in signposting the availability of the free Healthy Start vitamins.

Social care assessments are ideal opportunities to promote the scheme. Many maternity units include a copy of the application leaflet in their information packs. It’s also a good idea to note applications for Healthy Start in pregnancy notes and child health records.

Research shows that women who are introduced to the scheme by a health professional, who takes time to explain its public health context and health benefits, are more likely to understand the benefits rather than as a simple financial contribution. They may therefore be more likely to make best use of the scheme.

Due to changes in the law, you no longer need to countersign the Healthy Start application form.  This means Part B does not need to be signed.

This means you can leave Part B blank. However, if the applicant is pregnant they will need to complete their estimated due date in Part B. 

About Healthy Start vitamins

Pregnant women, women with a child under 12 months and children aged up to 4 years who are receiving Healthy Start vouchers are entitled to free Healthy Start vitamins.

Healthy Start vitamins contain vitamins A, C and D for children aged from birth to 4 years, and folic acid and vitamins C and D for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Healthy Start vitamins are important because:

  • 8% of children under 5 in the UK don’t have enough vitamin A in their diet
  • families in lower-income groups tend to have less vitamin C in their diet
  • all pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children are at risk of vitamin D deficiency (teenagers, younger women and those from ethnic minorities are particularly at risk)

Go to the NHS website for more information about using vitamins.

Available Healthy Start vitamins

There are 2 Healthy Start branded products available.

Healthy Start children’s vitamins drops

Children receiving Healthy Start vouchers qualify for free vitamin from birth until their 4th birthday.

The daily dose of 5 drops contains:

  • 233 micrograms of vitamin A
  • 20 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 10 micrograms of vitamin D3

Children who are having 500ml or more of formula a day do not need Healthy Start vitamins.

The vitamins are suitable for vegetarians and free from milk, egg, gluten, soya and peanut residues, and have a shelf life of 15 months from manufacture. Beneficiaries are entitled to 1 bottle of children’s drops every 8 weeks.

Healthy Start vitamins for women

The daily dose is 1 tablet, which contains:

  • 70 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 10 micrograms of vitamin D
  • 400 micrograms of folic acid

They are suitable for vegetarians and free from wheat, fish, egg and salt. No colours, flavours or preservatives. No gluten containing ingredients.

The shelf life is 2 years from manufacture. Beneficiaries are entitled to 1 bottle of tablets every 8 weeks.

View our resources library for more information about Healthy Start (opens in a new tab).

Healthy Start uptake data

You can now view our uptake data for England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

A child with knife and fork in hand about to eat a plate of vegetables

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions that people may have about the Healthy Start scheme

Alert: Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

If you've received a letter from the NHS about Healthy Start, you can help us test our new service.