Last updated: 4 January 2024

Next review: 4 January 2025

Healthy Start pre-paid card

If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, you could get help to buy healthy food and milk.

Items include essentials like:

  • fresh, tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables
  • pulses such as lentils and beans
  • cow's milk
  • infant formula

If you are eligible, you will be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. Money will be added automatically to this card every four weeks.

What do you get?

You will get money added to your card every four weeks to spend on certain food and milk.

  • £8.50 per week for each baby under 12 months old
  • £4.25 per week for each child between one and three years old
  • Plus £4.25 per week if you are pregnant (from week 10)
  • Free vitamins

Who is eligible for the Healthy Start scheme?

You qualify for Healthy Start if you or your family get:

  • Income support or
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance


  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance or
  • Child Tax Credit


  • Pension Credit or
  • Universal Credit with no earned income or total earned income of less than £408 per month for the family. You can find this in your Universal Credit award notice under “your take-home pay for this month”


  • you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or
  • you have at least one child under four or
  • You must also get Child Tax Credit

with a household income of £16,190 or less

Under 18s

If you are under 18 and over 10 weeks pregnant, you will qualify even if you don’t get any benefits.


Where can you use your Healthy Start Card?

Healthy start can be used anywhere that sells fruit, vegetables and milk and accepts Mastercard payments.

How to apply for Healthy Start

If you get Universal credit, you can apply online if:

  • you are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family’s monthly ‘take-home pay for this period’ is £408 or less from employment.

Apply on NHS website 

If you cannot apply online, you can call the National Healthy Start Team on 0300 330 7010. Please note that calls to this number are charged - find out more on the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website. A telephone translation service is also available. If English is not your first language, please ask for a translator for the language you need at the start of the call.

A member of staff at your local Family Hubs or your health visitor/midwife can also help you with your application. 

Vitamin supplements

Good nutrition in pregnancy and early childhood leads to better health but it’s difficult to get all the nutrients and vitamins you need, even if you eat a healthy balanced diet. Health experts recommend Healthy Start vitamins to make sure that you and your children get the important vitamins that you need.

  • multivitamins formulated especially for pregnancy and motherhood containing the recommended daily dose of folic acid and vitamins C and D
  • vitamin drops formulated for babies and children containing vitamin A, C and D.

In Waltham Forest, all pregnant women and babies can access up to three free bottles of Healthy Start vitamins.

Families with a Healthy Start card can continue to collect free Healthy Start children’s vitamins from their local Waltham Forest Family Hubs until their child is four years old. Please bring your card when you come to collect them.

Where to collect your vitamins:

Pregnant mums are offered their free bottle of vitamins at their first antenatal appointment (when booked to have their baby at Whipps Cross Hospital or Homerton Hospital)

You will be given the first bottle for your baby by your Health Visitor at your first appointment when your baby is about two weeks old.

You will receive your baby's second bottle during the weigh-in check clinic with the Health Visiting team when your baby is between six and eight weeks old 

The third bottle can be collected at the weigh-in drop-in sessions run by our Health Visiting Team in our four Family Hubs. Speak to your health visitor for more information or visit your local Family Hub to find your nearest drop-in session.

Remember, families with a Healthy Start card can continue to collect bottles from the above locations, as and when needed until their child is four years old. Please bring your card when you come to collect them.

For more information, please speak to a member of our Health Visiting team. Alternatively, contact them at 0300 033 6200 or for more details.