Home Advice for Parents & CarersBenefits for parents A Guide to Benefits if you are under 18 and having a baby

A Guide to Benefits if you are under 18 and having a baby

While you are pregnant

When your baby is born

Your employment rights

While you are pregnant

If you are under 18 and live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can usually get Healthy Start vouchers to help with the costs of milk, fruit, vegetables or pulses whilst you are pregnant. You should ask your midwife about these. If you are in Scotland, you can get Best Start Foods instead if you are under 18, and if you turn 18 whilst you are pregnant, these continue until the baby is born.

You may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance if you have been working and meet the usual conditions.  Once you are 29 weeks pregnant, you may be able to claim Universal Credit. However, if you are still in full-time education, you will have to wait until  you leave education to claim this.  Remember that claiming Universal Credit will mean it is not possible for someone else (for example your parents) to claim Child Benefit or a child element of UC or Child Tax Credit for you.

If you are under 18, in Scotland you can get a Best Start Grant (you don’t need to be on qualifying benefits) once you are 24 weeks pregnant. If you don’t live in Scotland, you can’t get a Sure Start Maternity Grant unless you, or someone who claims benefits for you, are on a qualifying benefit (it may be payable once you are 29 weeks pregnant if you qualify).

When your baby is born

When your baby is born, you can claim Child Benefit . There may be an option for you to claim benefits or for your parents or carers to claim for you – if you are not sure which is best, you should get advice.

If you are not already claiming benefits, you can choose to claim Universal Credit when your baby is born (unless very limited circumstances apply and you get benefits as a disabled young person). There may be a choice between you claiming UC and your parents or carers claiming Child Benefit and other help for you (if you are still in full-time education). You can’t do both, so seek advice if you need help to decide.

If you haven’t already claimed it, you or your parents/carers may be able to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant  for your baby, if it is your first child, depending on what other benefits you are claiming. In Scotland, this is replaced by the Best Start Grant and it doesn’t matter if you have other children. You will be entitled to the Best Start Grant if you haven’t already claimed it and you are under 18; if you have turned 18, it will depend on what benefits you or your family are on.

In England, Wales and N Ireland, you might be able to continue to get Healthy Start vouchers but this will depend on what other benefits you or your family get. If you are in Scotland, you can get Best Start Foods, as long as you are under 18. Once you are 18, you may still qualifying via benefits that you or your family are getting, or if you turn 18 whilst your baby is under 1, Best Start Foods will continue until your baby reaches their 1st birthday.

If you or your parents have come from outside the UK, whether you can claim benefits may depend on your immigration status. If you are not sure what to claim, you should get advice.

If you are a single parent (not living with a partner) and you live in England or Wales, you can contact Gingerbread for advice. In Scotland, you can contact One Parent Families Scotland and in Northern Ireland, Gingerbread NI.

If you are living with a partner, your rights to benefit will depend on the age of your partner and whether or not they are working. You can ring our helpline for more advice.

Your employment rights

If you are employed, you have exactly the same employment rights as any other employee. The only difference is the national minimum wage. All the information on our site about your rights at work applies. You can also look at the EHRC campaign Power to the Bump which is specifically aimed at young mums.


This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

Advice contact form


Have you heard about your right to request flexible working? Watch our film to find out more.

DonateReceive updates button