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Good nutrition is essential for babies and young children as it is a time of rapid growth, development and activity. Eating habits and patterns are formed in the first few years of life that may extend into later childhood and beyond.

Did you know there is a scheme through which you (if eligible) can get help to afford basic food and milk?

Called Healthy Start, it provides vouchers to support pregnant women or those with children aged under four years.

People in England, Wales or Northern Ireland may be able to claim free vouchers, or payments every four weeks, to spend on fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables; fresh, dried, and tinned pulses; and cow’s milk and infant formula milk. Free Healthy Start vitamins are also available.

You’ll qualify for the Healthy Start scheme if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or you have at least one child that’s under four.

In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:

Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)

Income Support

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)

Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)

You will also be eligible if:

✚ You’re under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits

You claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant

You or your partner get Working Tax Credit run-on only. (Working Tax Credit run-on is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the four weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week)

You can apply for Healthy Start vouchers by filling in a form. Call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823
and ask them to send one to you by post.

More details can be found at https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/

People in Scotland are not eligible for Healthy Start but they can apply for Best Start Foods instead.

Best Start Foods is a prepaid card to help families buy healthy foods like milk or fruit, for example, if you’re pregnant or have a child under 3.

The amount on the prepaid card will change depending on the age of your child. More details can be found at https://www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods

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