The Waikato District Health Board is to start supplying infant beds to families with babies at risk from Sudden Explained Death of an Infant (SUDI).
The board is making available 1500 'Pepi-Pods' free to families with babies aged up to six months.
The pods are portable baby-sized beds that can be placed in the parents' bed.
About 60 babies die from SUDI each year of whom 80% are Maori.
Waikato District Health Board Maori Health general manager Ditre Tamatea says the pod protects a child from being smothered.
He says the pods are particularly necessary for parents who smoke because this seriously affects babies.
He said the babies do not have the same startle reflex as infants brought up in smoke-free households which can increase their risk of dying.
Mr Tamatea says it's important that parents get the message smoking is both dangerous to their health and that of their baby.