Maori families in Waikato with babies at risk from Sudden Unexplained Death of an Infant (SUDI) are the main beneficiaries of the roll out of 1500 special infant beds designed to protect a baby sleeping in its parent's bed.
About 60 babies die from SUDI each year of whom 80% are Maori.
The Pepi-Pods are portable baby-sized beds that can be placed in the parents' bed and will be available free to families with babies aged up to six months.
Waikato District Health Board Maori Health general manager Ditre Tamatea says 80% of Maori babies are exposed to smoking during pregnancy and this puts them at risk once they are born.
He says while the pod will protect babies while they sleep, there is also a strong message going out to parents that it's better for their own and their baby's health to be smoke-free.
Mr Tamatea says this, along with promoting breast-feeding, are major ways of reducing the incidence of SUDI.
He says bed-sharing with babies is a common practice within Maori communities.
Mr Tamatea says the beds can be passed down to the next child and within the whanau.
He says those receiving a Pepi-Pod also get a friendly wero (challenge) to pass on what they have learned about safe sleeping practices, going smoke free and the importance of breast feeding.