Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

What you’ll get

About your Healthy Start benefit

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 4, you could get help to buy some basic foods and milk.

You’ll get:

  • £4.25 each week of your pregnancy (from the 10th week of your pregnancy)
  • £8.50 each week for children from birth to 1 year old
  • £4.25 each week for children between 1 and 4 years old

Your money will stop after your child’s 4th birthday, or if you no longer receive benefits.

You can also get free Healthy Start vitamins.

What you can buy

You’re only allowed to buy certain types of milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables

These can be:

  • fresh or frozen or tinned
  • fresh, dried or tinned pulses
  • whole or chopped
  • packaged or loose
  • fruit in fruit juice, or fruit or vegetables in water

They cannot:

  • have added ingredients like fat (oil), salt, sugar or flavourings, such as tinned tomatoes and herbs, kidney beans in chilli sauce, chips or onion rings
  • juiced or pre-cooked
  • fruits in syrup
  • be smoothies

Plain cow’s milk

This need to be plain cow’s milk, which is pasteurised, sterilised, long-life or ultra-heat treated (UHT).

It cannot be:

  • flavoured
  • coloured
  • evaporated
  • condensed
  • plant-based milk
  • powdered (unless it’s stage one infant formula)

Infant formula

This must be:

  • stage one only (first infant formula)
  • made from cow’s milk
  • nutritionally complete

Look for ‘complete nutrition’, ‘from birth’, ‘from birth to 6 months’, or ‘from birth to 12 months’ on the label.

It cannot be follow-on formula or milk (‘from 6 months’, or ‘from 6 to 12 months’).

You can find more about infant formula at NHS choices (opens in a new tab).

Get free Healthy Start vitamins

These are tablets for women and drops for children.

They do not contain milk, egg, gluten, soya or peanut residues. They’re suitable for vegetarians and halal diets. They’re not suitable for vegans.

You can find out more about the vitamins you and your baby need and why at Start4Life (opens in a new tab).

You can find out where to collect your vitamins:

Children’s vitamin drops

These can be taken from birth if your child is having less than 500ml (about 1 pint) of infant formula a day.

If they’re having more than this, they do not need to take them. This is because vitamins have already been added to formula.

You or your children should not take more than the recommended amount.

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 are receiving HMRC Child Tax Credits and you have an invitation letter from the NHS, you can apply for the new service here.