The importance of childcare as a field of study and for public policy has grown in recent times in response to an increase in women in the labour force and greater evidence of the developmental importance of the early years. Since devolution, early childhood education and care has been the responsibility of the Welsh Government which overall has developed some distinctive approaches towards children and young people’s policy. Yet in the case of childcare, the philosophical underpinnings often seem to be at odds with the policy practices that emerge.Using a Bourdieusian approach this paper examines how the power relations that define the field of childcare have been shaped by past events and structures (Bourdieu 1984, p.170). The current political discourses around childcare are placed within a historical context that also incorporate discourses of parenting, motherhood and early childhood itself (Moss et al. 2000; Bown et al. 2009; Kremer 2007; Rafferty & Wiggan 2011). A mixed method of content analysis and policy framing techniques (Fischer 2003; Keeney 2004) are used to interpret Welsh childcare policy development through the study of key public texts from government, political parties and third sector organisations.The study finds that while there has been some fluctuation in the policy framing of childcare over the course of devolved government in Wales, childcare policy is predominantly presented as an anti-poverty measure where the rights and entitlements of parents to access childcare in support of paid work, inherently conflict with the rights of children. It further finds that childcare is a contested field where power is unequally distributed not only between policy actors and between the actors and Government, but between governments in Cardiff and Westminster. This contestation of childcare policy is found to have implications for parents, children and childcare services in Wales.