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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.

Free vitamins

If you’re pregnant or trying for a baby, are a mum with a baby under 1 year and/or have children under 4 years, you can get free multivitamins from children’s centres, regardless of income. These include:

  • multivitamins formulated especially for pregnancy and motherhood
  • vitamin drops formulated for babies and children.

The multivitamins contain a balance of nutrients to support healthy growth and development, alongside a balanced diet. They contain the recommended amount of Vitamin D for mums and infants – especially important during the autumn and winter months as you may not be getting enough sunshine to top up your Vitamin D levels naturally.

Vitamins can be picked up from Islington children’s and health centres. Follow the link at the bottom of the page to see children’s centre contact details and opening times.

Healthy Start prepaid card

If you are receiving income support or are under 18-years-old and pregnant, you may also be able to receive a Healthy Start prepaid card.

You could receive £8.50 per week if you have a baby aged under one year, £4.25 per week if you are pregnant, and £4.25 for each child aged under 4 years old.

You can use this to buy from local shops:

  • cow's milk
  • fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables (without any additives)
  • pulses
  • infant formula

All pregnant women under 18 are entitled to both free vitamins and a Healthy Start prepaid card.

Income support includes Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit with a family income of £16,190 or less per year, Pension Credit, or Universal Credit with total earned income of £408 or less per month for the family.

What you can get

 Criteria Vitamins (women's vitamins and/or children's vitamin drops) Healthy Start Prepaid Card (£4.25 per week) Healthy Start Prepaid Card (£8.50 per week)
Pregnant women under 18*  Yes  Yes  No
Pregnant women 18 and over  Yes  Yes  No
Baby under 1 year   Yes  No  Yes
Child between 1 and 4 years   Yes  Yes  No

Apply for a card

Apply for your Healthy Start prepaid card

If you cannot apply online, you can call 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’s centre or family support surgery can help you with your application. 

To apply you will need to provide:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number (if you don’t know your National Insurance number, the Government have some information on how to find a lost National Insurance number)
  • baby’s due date

If you’re not receiving income support but would like vitamins, please call your children’s centre to apply.

For more information about Healthy Start, check out this leaflet.

Important information for any families who currently receive Healthy Start vouchers

If you were receiving Healthy Start vouchers, you need to reapply online or by telephone to continue to receive Healthy Start payments.

Apply for your Healthy Start prepaid card

If you are unable to apply online, you can also reapply by calling 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.

You can contact your local children’s centre if you need further support in re-applying for a Healthy Start card.

Families with no recourse to public funds

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has agreed to temporarily extend the Healthy Start scheme to people who meet all of the following criteria:

  • parental responsibility for at least one British child who is less than 4 years old
  • family take-home pay of less than £408 per month
  • excluded from claiming public funds due to immigration status

Please note: this temporary extension does not include pregnant women. 

Families with no recourse to public funds can apply to Healthy Start by requesting an application form from healthystartclaim@dhsc.gov.uk.To apply, parents/carers will need to provide copies of:

  • passport and/or Home Office reference number or case ID (if known) 
  • proof of address
  • child(s) birth certificate 
  • bank statement - if you do not have a bank statement please provide documents that demonstrate your meet the financial criteria.

DHSC will contact you as soon as possible if they require further information to help process the application.

There may not be one set of documents that prove you qualify. Please contact healthystartclaim@dhsc.gov.uk if you have any questions.

Further information

  • Your local Bright Start Health Visiting Team is here to provide support and advice on infant nutrition and feeding, and building a relationship with your baby. Visit their webpage, or follow the link to children’s centres and under 5s activities below.
  • If you’d like some fun, easy ideas of things to do at home with children 0-5, sign up for the Bright Start Bright Ideas newsletter.
  • Family Support Surgeries are run by a Family Engagement Worker, who can provide support, advice, and information on any issues that may be affecting your family. To find out more for your area, call:
    • 0207 527 8376 (Bright Start Islington East)
    • 0207 527 8531 (Bright Start Islington West)
    • 0207 527 8512 (Bright Start Islington South)
  • For more information on healthy eating for pregnant women, infants, and new mums, please visit First Step Nutrition.