The Big Lottery Fund will make £165m available to voluntary and community sector-led partnerships to improve the lives of vulnerable babies.
A Better Start will invest between £30m and £50m in three to five local authority areas over the next 10 years.
The BLF is writing to all local authorities in England inviting them to express an interest in applying.
Development grants will be awarded to a shortlist of 10 to 15 areas before final grants are awarded, the BLF said.
The aim of the fund is to improve the physical, emotional and psychological foundations built during a child’s first few years. The money will be used to help 10,000 of the most vulnerable babies in England.
Nat Sloane, England chair of the BLF, said: "Costly social problems can be traced back to some children not having a good start in life.
"A Better Start will aim to stop harm to a child before it happens by providing the right support in those crucial years between birth and the age of three. Helping parents give their children the best possible start in life will mean less costly spending on treating entrenched problems later on."