Healthy Child

Henry: Healthy Families Group Programme:

The HENRY Group Programme is an eight-week course for parents with children between 1 and 5 years. The course runs once a week for 1.5 hours every week for 8 weeks. You will receive a Henry parent toolkit (which includes a parent handbook for you to follow over the weeks, children’s books and other fun resources to support your child with eating well) as well as a certificate. The programme covers these 5 themes across 8 weeks and provides everything you need to help get your little one off to a great start. The sessions are designed and tailored to meet your family needs; each week helps you provide a healthy, happy, supportive environment for the whole family.

Next courses (Run on ZOOM):

  • 9 May to 4 July (1pm-2.30pm)

Fussy Eating Workshop:

A 1.5 hour online session to support you with ideas to encourage your child to expand their taste buds and explore new foods. The session will help you feel more confident with supporting your child to eat a range of foods to meet their needs and create a positive meal time experience.

Next workshop dates (RUN ON ZOOM):

  • 3 July 2024 (13:00-14:30)

Eat Well for Less Workshop:

  • *awaiting new dates*

Please enquire about these sessions via our Registration Form if new! If not- just email/call us!

It is important to give children healthy and nutritious foods to help them grow and to support the development of healthy eating behaviours right from the start. Many foods advertised for children are high in fat and/ or sugar and tend to be low in nutrients, these foods can also develop a taste preference for unhealthy foods leading to health problems later in life.

Follow these top tips to help your child eat well:

1. Provide a wide variety of unprocessed foods from all four food groups – fruit and vegetables, starchy food including bread, rice, pasta and potato, protein rich food for example pulses, eggs, meat and fish and dairy food including milk, yoghurt and cheese. This will help ensure your child gets all the nutrients they need.

2. Avoid processed foods- if there are more than a handful of ingredients on the label then avoid them. Processed foods are foods that have been changed from their natural state and often contain added ingredients for example salt, sugar, artificial flavourings and additives.

3. Meal times matter- eating together as a family is important for children as children will learn from those around them. It’s important to role model healthy eating habits and make meal times a positive family experience.

4. Avoid foods with added salt- children should not have foods high in salt as it can damage their developing kidneys and develop a preference for salty foods. Avoid giving young children processed foods, take always, ready meals, salty snacks or adding salt to their food.

5. Provide child-sized portions of at least five different fruit and vegetables a day. As a guide a portion size is the size of your child’s hand. Serve fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack.

6. Include foods high in iron and zinc. This includes eggs, red meat, oil-rich fish, nuts, seeds, pulses and fortified cereals

7. Include sources of calcium, riboflavin and iodine every day. Whole or semi-skimmed cows’ milk, cheeses, and unsweetened yoghurt and fromage frais are good sources of these nutrients. For children who do not have dairy products, an unsweetened fortified milk alternative such as soya milk alternative or unsweetened fortified soya yoghurt can provide these nutrients

8. Plain milk and water are the only drinks recommended for children. Children should be encouraged to drink tap water if they are thirsty, and fresh drinking water should be available at all times. Water quenches thirst, does not spoil the appetite, and does not damage teeth.

9. Limit their sugar intake. Children do not need foods high in sugar such as cake, sweets and biscuits. They can lead to weight gain and tooth decay and create a preferred taste for sweet foods. See our snack list for suitable alternatives

Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed baby, some of the benefits of breastfeeding include:

  • breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby.
  • breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases.
  • breast milk is available for your baby whenever your baby needs it.
  • breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby.
  • breastfeeding also provides health benefits for you.

Watch the video below to find out more about breastmilk and how it is tailored to baby.

Formula milk does not provide the same protection from illness and does not give you any health benefits.

Breastfeeding takes time and practise and it can take weeks for you to become confident with breastfeeding but there is lots of support available to help you get off to a great start.

Vitamins for babies

It’s recommended that breastfed babies are given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D from birth, whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

Babies having 500mls (about a pint) or more of formula a day should not be given vitamin supplements as formula is already fortified with vitamins. This does not mean that breastmilk is not the healthiest way to feed baby as it contains other ingredients that formula milk cannot replicate.

All children aged 6 months to 5 years should be given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day. For more information on vitamins and where to get them see Healthy Start.

Breastfeeding support

Free Breastfeeding Hub App (use current image on site)

This free app is a hub for all your breastfeeding needs. Your virtual breastfeeding supporter provides information and support with breastfeeding and helps you find and rate breastfeeding friendly places in your local area.

Download free:

National Breastfeeding Helpline

Independent, confidential, mother-centred, non-judgmental breastfeeding support and information

Open 9.30am – 9.30pm every single day of the year

0300 100 0212

Other information and support

Baby Buddy App- Free App with over 200 videos to support parents including feeding

For information on bottle feeding

Add Human milk video

Add current resources on page

Starting solids is an important time for influencing a child’s taste preferences and developing healthy behaviours. Starting solids (also known as weaning) should start at around 6 months as baby’s milk provides all the nutrition baby needs in the first 6 months.

Flying Start provide information sessions on when, what and how to introduce solid foods. The session is 1.5 hours and is for parents/carers of babies 3-6 months who have not yet started solids.


This video is less than 30 minutes and provides you with a brief overview of the useful information on when, what and how to start introducing your baby to solid foods.

Click here to register for the link to watch the video

We would really appreciate if you could complete this Starting solids ONLINE Evaluation Form and return to once you have watched the video. Your feedback is important to us and helps enable us to be able to create other similar free resources.

Vitamins for babies

It’s recommended that breastfed babies are given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D from birth, whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

Babies having 500mls (about a pint) or more of formula a day should not be given vitamin supplements as formula is already fortified with vitamins. This does not mean that breastmilk is not the healthiest way to feed baby as it contains other ingredients that formula milk cannot replicate.

All children aged 6 months to 5 years should be given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day. For more information on vitamins and where to get them see Healthy Start Vitamins

What is Healthy Start?

You could qualify for Healthy start if:

  • you are pregnant or have a child under 4 and are on benefits OR
  • you are pregnant and under 18 (even if you are not claiming benefits)

With Healthy Start, you can get free vouchers every week which you can spend on milk, fruit, vegetables, pulses and infant formula milk. You can also get free Healthy Start vitamins.

Pregnant women and children over one and under four years old can get one £4.25 voucher per week. Children under one year old can get two £4.25 vouchers (£8.50) per week.

The vouchers can be spent on:

  • plain cow’s milk – whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed. It can be pasteurised, sterilised, long life or UHT
  • plain, fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables (fruit and vegetables with no added ingredients), whole or chopped, packaged or loose
  • fresh, frozen or tinned pulses
  • infant formula milk that says it can be used from birth and is based on cow’s milk.

Ask your health visitor or midwife for details or visit Healthy start NHS

Healthy Start vitamins are recommended for pregnant women and new mums and children from 6 month to 5 years. Vitamins are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts so that it can work properly. Even though you can get lots of vitamins from a healthy balanced diet, you still might not get everything you need at certain times in your life – such as when you’re pregnant, a new mum or a small child. It is recommended that at these times you should take a supplement containing specific vitamins to make sure you get everything you need.

Women’s vitamin tablets contain:

  • Folic acid: reduces the chance of your baby having spina bifida, a birth defect where the spine doesn’t form properly
  • Vitamin C: helps maintain healthy tissue in the body
  • Vitamin D: helps your body to absorb calcium and so supports your baby’s bones to develop properly. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness.

Healthy Start children’s vitamin drops contain:

  • Vitamin A: for growth, vision in dim light and healthy skin
  • Vitamin C: helps maintain healthy tissue in the body
  • Vitamin D: for strong bones and teeth. In children a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets.

Healthy Start vitamins can help prevent vitamin deficiencies and maintain healthy growth and development for your child. Vitamin D is difficult to get from the diet alone and the best source is from sunlight, therefore during the winter months it is difficult to get adequate amount of vitamins D. Certain groups are at a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, babies born with darker skin types and anyone who has little or no exposure to sunlight (for example wear concealing clothing, sun creams or stay indoors etc.)

Healthy Start vitamins are suitable for vegetarians and halal diets, and free from milk, egg, gluten, soya and peanut residues.M

There are a range of other vitamins available, however many of these contain a range of nutrients that are not suitable, therefore Healthy Start Vitamins are the only vitamin supplements we recommend for your child.

You may also be eligible for free vitamins through the Healthy Start scheme

Where are Healthy Start vitamins available?

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Baby teeth really do matter

Although children will lose their baby teeth as they get older it is still really important to look after them to prevent tooth decay and to get children used to looking after their teeth from an early age. Decayed baby teeth can cause a lot of pain, lead to infection and cause problems with eating, sleeping and going to school. This can also affect their speech and language development and their confidence. If problems become more serious it can mean a child has to go into hospital to have teeth extracted – a distressing experience for any family.


Follow our 12 top tips for looking after baby’s teeth

  1. Brush your baby’s teeth as soon as a tooth appears

    Baby’s teeth should be brushed as soon as the very first one starts to break through the gums, using a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. Toothbrushes should be replaced every 2-3 months or sooner once the bristles become splayed.

  2. Brush before bedtime and one other time during the day

    Brush twice a day for two minutes. Brushing before bedtime is very important – make sure you don’t eat or drink anything after, unless it is plain water. If your child does not like to brush their teeth, try doing a toothbrushing activity with them, such as drawing some teeth on paper and using an old toothbrush and shaving foam to brush them! .

  3. Spit, don’t rinse after brushing

    After brushing teeth (you and your children) should avoid rinsing out with water or mouthwash – you will wash the fluoride in the toothpaste away! Just spit out the excess foam – job done! Babies/children who cannot spit out after brushing should have just a smear of family toothpaste on their brush. .

  4. Don’t add sugar to any food or drink given to babies

    There is no benefit in giving babies foods containing sugar as it can damage their teeth and get them used to over sweetened foods. .

  5. Remember to ask for sugar-free medicines when possible

    If they are not available, try and give the medicine at mealtimes to reduce an extra sugar attack.

  6. Use a toothpaste with at least 1000 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride (Check the label)

    A supermarket own-brand toothpaste is just as effective as a more expensive, branded toothpaste. Just remember to check the amount of fluoride in the toothpaste, this will help strengthen tooth enamel (the strong outer part of the tooth) to help prevent tooth decay. it should not be less than 1000ppm (parts per million) for children under 7 and at least 1350ppm for adults and children over 7. Whitening toothpaste is not suitable for children under 13 years. .

  7. Use just a smear of toothpaste on the brush for under 3s and a pea sized amount for over 3s

    The whole family, including babies, can use the same standard (non-whitening) toothpaste and It may be beneficial to get them used to the minty flavour early on, it is just the amount used that differs for children. .

  8. Supervise your child whilst they are brushing their teeth until they are eight years old,

    Supervise brushing teeth and gums and remember to brush every surface of every tooth.

  9. Avoid giving sugary and acidic foods and drinks between meals and an hour before bedtime

    It is how often we have sugars and acidic food/drink that has the biggest impact on our teeth – not just the amount. This is why snacks and drinks in between meals need to be tooth-friendly.

  10. Honey, smoothies, fruit juice and dried fruit are not tooth-friendly

    Treats for little ones don’t need to be sweets or any kind of food. Children often love stickers, trips to the park, feeding the ducks or a good tickle! Try to think of healthy, tooth friendly treats for them.

  11. Milk and water are the only tooth friendly drinks

    Milk and still, unflavoured water are the only tooth-friendly drinks. All other drinks can contribute to tooth decay and tooth erosion.

  12. From 6 months onwards encourage the use of open top cups and try to avoid using a bottle after the age of one year

    Try to limit or avoid using a dummy as it can affect how a baby’s teeth grow, as well as affecting their speech as they get older. Look for other ways to give comfort.

It is important to take your child to a dentist to have a first check-up by their 1st birthday. Even if the baby doesn’t open her/his mouth the dental team will provide preventative oral health advice and this will help baby get used to the dentist. NHS dental care is free for children as well as pregnant women and mothers for 12 months after giving birth. For a list of Luton dental practises INSERT TOP TIPS LEAFLET

Vitamin D is also important for teeth and bones, and to help calcium uptake in the body. Adults and babies are advised to take a 10mcg vitamin D supplement (babies consuming 500ml formula/day should not require additional supplementation). For more information on vitamins visit vitamins for babies

Parenting and Family Relationships

There are a variety of courses and one-off sessions for parents in Luton to promote positive, nurturing and responsive parenting

Child Safety

Safe at Home Luton is a child accident prevention programme aimed at families from pregnancy through to the child’s 5th birthday.

SEND families

If you think that your child may have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) you should speak to someone about your concerns- find out more on Luton’s Local Offer

Five to Thrive

Just as our child’s body grows better when you give them good food, your child’s brain grows better when you do five simple things that feed the growing brain:

Respond ● Cuddle ● Relax ● Play ● Talk

Talking Takes Off

Talking Takes Off is a programme to support improvements in speech and communication in children from 0-5 years old in Luton.


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