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Healthy start

Healthy Start supports pregnant women and young families to eat well and get the vitamins they need for healthy development, helping you give your family the very best start in life.

Last updated: 14 November 2022

Next review: 3 November 2023

Healthy start pre paid card

If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you could get help to buy healthy food and milk.

Items like

  • fresh fruit
  • tinned fruit
  • or frozen fruit

vegetables and pulses such as

  • lentils and beans
  • or cow’s milk
  • and 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 onto this card every four weeks.

What do you get?

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

  • £8.50 per week for each baby under the age of 1
  • £4.25 per week for each child aged between 1 and 3
  • 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

with a family income of £16,190 or less per year


  • 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 4 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 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, veg 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 online 

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 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 children and family centre or your health visitor /midwife can help you with your application. 

Children and family centres | London Borough of Waltham Forest

0-19 universal children's services | NELFT NHS Foundation Trust

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 children under four can access up to three bottles of Healthy Start vitamins.

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)
  • If you are a parent with children under 4, your first bottle will be given by your Health Visitor at your first appointment when your baby is about 2 weeks old.
  • The remaining 2 bottles can be collected from the following locations:
    • Chingford Health Centre
      109 York Road, Chingford E4 8LF.
      020 8430 8010 
    • Langthorne Health Centre
      13 Langthorne Road, Leytonstone, E11 4HX
      020 8430 7510 
  • 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 your Health Visitor. Alternatively, contact them on 0300 3001 940 or for more information.