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Healthy Start

What is Healthy Start?

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. Your benefit is added onto this card every 4 weeks.

You can use your card to buy:

  1. plain liquid cow’s milk
  2. fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  3. fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  4. infant formula milk based on cow’s milk

You can also use your card to collect:

  1. Healthy Start vitamins – these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  2. vitamin drops for babies and young children – these are suitable from birth to 4 years old

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

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

If you get Child Tax Credit, you can apply online if:

  1. you have at least one child under 4 years old
  2. your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less

Healthy Start Vitamins

Young children may not get enough vitamin A and D even if they are eating well. If you are pregnant and breastfeeding you may not get enough vitamin C or D or folic acid.

You can use your Healthy Start card to get these important vitamins for free. These come as NHS Healthy Start tablets and drops for children.

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

You can get the vitamin tablets while you’re pregnant and up to your baby’s 1st birthday. They contain:

  1. folic acid which lowers the chance of babies having spinal problems
  2. vitamin C which helps the body’s soft tissue
  3. vitamin D which helps babies’ bones to develop properly

To collect your free vitamins, you’ll have to show your Healthy Start card or vouchers.

In Sheffield vitamins are now available from every local Family Centre. If you do not qualify for Healthy Start they are also available to buy at low cost. For further information about Healthy Start please ask your midwife or health visitor, call 0845 607 6823

or visit

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Breastfeeding in Sheffield – support for everyone

We want to see what breastfeeding looks like for you, in your everyday life, so we can better reflect the wonderful diversity that we know exists in our city.

We want the images we use to show people who look like you

What photo should I send?

You don’t need to show a bare breast or nipple if you don’t want to, in fact it can be great to show how discreet breastfeeding can be with different clothes.

It would be lovely to see your face but if you would prefer to remain anonymous and be cropped out, that’s fine.

We don’t need your photo to be perfect or staged, we’d rather see the real side of breastfeeding (dirty washing & toys included)

It can be helpful to other mums to show that breastfeeding doesn’t always have to take place at home or in a comfortable chair – so photos of breastfeeding outside of the home or in unusual places would also be good.

We would love to see photos of:

  • Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic or interracial families
  • Breastfeeding with a disability (whether this is a parent or child)
  • Parents in same-sex relationships
  • Trans parents
  • Younger parents
  • Breastfeeding alongside those people who have supported you to breastfeed – for example your partner, a grandparent, a friend, or a peer supporter.

Where do I send my photo and what will you do with it?

Please send your photos to us at or message the Breastfeeding in Sheffield Facebook page.

We will add the photos to an album on our social media pages and then use the photos on our website and in future posters and social media campaigns.

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Focus on Feeding – Breastfeeding & Returning to Work or Study

Returning to work doesn’t mean that you have to stop breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding exclusively (giving your baby no other food or drink) is recommended for around the first six months. After that time, breastfeeding is recommended alongside solid food (see the section on weaning). Therefore, it’s likely that you’ll be breastfeeding when you return to work or college.

The following information may help you:

  • Consider your baby’s age when planning to breastfeed and returning to work/study, your baby may be eating solid food during the day.
  • Contact the Infant Feeding Peer Support Workers based at your local Children’s Centre or ask for advice from other mums on our Breastfeeding in Sheffield Facebook page.
  • You can arrange for childcare close to work or college so that you can breastfeed during breaks, or before and after work. The evening feed can be a wonderful way for you to relax with your baby after work or college.
  • You can express breast milk (taking milk from the breast by hand or using a pump) so that someone else can feed your baby while you’re at work. See our section on Expressing breast milk and the Unicef Baby Friendly ‘Guide for Parents who Formula Feed’
  • Ask your employer or college for flexible working hours that are arranged around your breastfeeding needs.
  • Think about it early. Before you go back to work, write to your employer/tutor to let them know that you are breastfeeding. You may have an HR department that can help. It can make preparations, such as finding you a private room where you can breastfeed or express your milk.
  • Have a trial run with childcare before returning to work, discuss things with your childminder such as providing her with labelled and dated expressed breast milk. See our section on Expressing breast milk
  • Before returning to work, you should give your employer written notification that you are breastfeeding. Your employer must then conduct a specific risk assessment of your workplace. They must take steps to protect your health and safety on your return to work.
  • There is lots of useful information in this leaflet about Breastfeeding after returning to work or study leaflet from the Department of Health.

What are your rights?

Although employers are not required by law to accommodate breastfeeding mothers, it is good practice in accordance with the Health and Safety Executive, for employers to do the following:

  • Offer facilities to rest and time to express
  • Discuss flexible working hours
  • Discuss availability of a private space
  • Discuss the possibility of feeding baby during breaks
  • Discuss availability of onsite childcare

Useful contacts

  • Maternity Action helpline: 0808 802 0029
  • Health and Safety Executive:
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Sheffield Family Centres

Sheffield has 7 Family centres (formerly known as children’s centres) and together with their outreach sites they cover all areas of the city and provide advice, support activities and services for families with children under-5 as well as maternity care and support for expectant parents.
Come along to your local Family Centre to meet other families, get support and join in with free activities. What’s on in each Family Centre varies according to the needs of the local community but typically you can come to:

  • Preparation for parenthood groups
  • Health support and clinics run by Midwives and Health Visitors
  • Toddler groups
  • Fun learning activities with your family

And get help and support with:

  • Getting into training and work
  • Information and advice about feeding your baby, healthy eating for your family, active lifestyles, 2 year old dental care, home safety etc.
  • Free and low cost healthy start vitamins
  • Registering your child’s birth (by appointment at selected centres only)

Visit the link to the Family Centre page on the Sheffield Directory website to find details of your local Family Centre and the activities, support and groups they hold there.

You can book onto the Family Centre groups on Eventbrite, via this link

Why have Children’s centres become Family centres and will this affect the services I receive there?

Following consultation we are developing a new model for providing services to families, transforming areas into Family Centre areas which are for pre-birth – 19 year olds (25 year olds if the young person has special educational needs or disabilities)

If you are pregnant or have a child under 5 you will notice very little difference You will still be able to access all the usual services as we expand to provide services for the ‘whole family’

Each Family centre has a stakeholder group and parents are especially welcome. If you wish to be involved in the stakeholder group for your area, please contact:
You can download a copy of the latest What’s on Guide for your local family centre and a map showing the Family centre areas from the Family Centre page on the Sheffield Directory website.

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What is Tongue Tie?

What is a tongue tie?

The frenulum is a piece of skin/tissue that attaches the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. A tongue tie (also known as ankyloglossia) is where the frenulum is too short or too tight.

How common are tongue ties?

Tongue ties occur in about 1 in 20 babies.

What problems do tongue ties cause?

Most babies with a tongue tie will have no problems at all. They can feed perfectly well and maintain adequate weight gain. Some babies can have problems with breastfeeding and a few have difficulty bottle-feeding. Many parents worry that tongue ties will cause problems with speech later on in life but this is very rare.

Should my baby have his or her tongue tie treated?

If you are worried that a tongue tie might be affecting your baby’s feeding then you should see your midwife or health visitor for information and support. Most babies with a tongue tie do not need any treatment. Some tongue ties stretch over time and some are divided naturally by the baby while putting things in their mouth such as, toys or spoons. If you are experiencing problems with breastfeeding despite support around latch, pain or discomfort then dividing the tongue tie may help.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines suggest that there is evidence to support dividing tongue ties in babies who are having problems with breast feeding. There is no research suggesting that babies with tongue ties who are bottle feeding will benefit from the procedure. Dividing a tongue tie in a baby carries a small risk of a painful ulcer under the tongue and a very small risk of bleeding that would have to be treated with an operation under general anaesthetic. It would be wrong to put a baby through the discomfort and risks of a tongue tie division where there is no evidence it would be helpful and for this reason we do not divide tongue ties in babies who are bottle fed.

How do I get my baby an appointment to have his or her tongue tie treated?

In babies (up to 6 months of age) it is possible to divide the tongue tie in the outpatients clinic at Sheffield Children’s hospital. A referral to the hospital is made via your midwife, health visitor or GP.

Weaning baby on to food

Most babies with a tongue tie will wean on to food with no problems

If the problems persist ……..

If your baby is not gaining weight adequately, then please see your GP, as there could be an underlying medical problem. If there are no medical problems and your baby is not putting on weight because of the tongue tie then ask for another appointment to consider tongue tie division; this is, however extremely rare.

If you experience problems when weaning your baby on to solids then referral to a speech and language therapist may be beneficial. Likewise, if you are worried about your child’s speech in the future, referral to a speech and language therapist before dividing the tongue tie is recommended. This is because it is extremely rare for tongue ties to cause problems with speech and it is much more likely that there is a different cause of the speech problems.


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Breastfeeding Support Groups

Breastfeeding Support Groups in Sheffield

Click the link to find a list of the breastfeeding support groups across the City, Breastfeeding in Sheffield – Support Groups Jan-Mar 2023 (1)

You can also look on Eventbrite to find a group that suits you and to book your place whilst numbers are still limited, 

There will always be a trained Infant Feeding Support Worker at these groups to offer help and advice on your breastfeeding journey.  There will be other mums there too who can share their experiences with you and offer support. You are welcome to try as many of the groups as you like and in any area of Sheffield.

There is at least one Infant Feeding Peer Support Worker attached to every Family Centre (formerly known as Children’s Centres) in Sheffield. They can offer breastfeeding support over the telephone or on a one to one basis, at the groups, cafes and drop-ins they hold.

The primary aim of the Infant Feeding Peer Support Worker is to support mums to breastfeed but we recognise that you may need support however you choose to feed your child.

Family Centres

Family Centres are for families with children under 5 years old. They provide a range of services, depending on what’s needed locally. The services offered will not be the same everywhere, because needs and communities vary greatly. Types of services include:

  • information, advice and support for parents and carers
  • health services
  • family support
  • employment advice
  • family learning
  • parents forums

Contact your local centre to find out what’s available near you.


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Breastfeeding Friendly Venues

The Equality Act 2010 came into force in October 2010. It says that it is sex discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. It applies to anyone providing services, benefits, facilities and premises to the public, public bodies, further and higher education bodies and associations.

If you are breastfeeding in a public place such as a café, park, shop, cinema,, on a bus etc, you cannot be asked to stop or refused to be served. You are also protected on public transport such as buses, trains and planes.

However, many people still find it daunting to breastfeed in public places, so in Sheffield we have a list of venues which would like to show their support to breastfeeding mums and families. These places have been accredited with Sheffield’s Breastfeeding Friendly Award.

Click on the link below to see the current list of venues, by postcode area but do remember that you have a legal right to breastfeed anywhere and cannot be asked to leave or move.

Sheffield is a Breastfeeding Friendly City!!

Sheffield Breastfeeding Friendly Venues 2022

If you would like to nominate a venue for the Breastfeeding Friendly Award, please contact us at

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