From April 2015, new parents will be able to share up to a year’s leave from the birth of their child. Here's what you need to know.
Government plans designed to make it easier for mothers to go out to work are due to be unveiled.
Plans to allow nursery staff and childminders to look after more toddlers are likely to be dropped after Nick Clegg raised concerns today.
Nicola Sturgeon says that expanding free childcare to the equivalent of 30 hours per week would help parents return to work, but would not say how much it would cost an independent government.
#indyplan on priorities for an independent Scotland: Increasing female and parental involvement in the workforce through expanding childcare
Labour leader Ed Miliband has criticised the Government over the rising cost of childcare, claiming there is a "childcare crunch" affecting families.
Here are a selection of ITV News viewers' opinions on the subject:
– Jenny Collins
When Labour were in power, my kids were little. Childcare costs were higher than any wage I could have earned so I couldn't have afforded to work even if I wanted to, and that was under Labour!
– Lucy Smith
[It's] too expensive, I can't return to my job when my maternity is up because the cost for both my boys (both under three) is more than my part time wage! Ridiculous.
– Julie Dodds
I am a childminder and I would love to know where the 30% increase in costs figure came from, because no childminder that I know has put their fees up that much if at all since the election!
Big banks should pay for extended free childcare to help ease cost of living pressures on families, Ed Miliband has told Daybreak.
The Labour leader said he wants to extend the free childcare for three and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours a week, which he claims would be the equivalent of about £1,500 a year saving for families who "are really struggling to cope.
"The banks are actually making very big profits and I think they can afford a bit more to help families," he said.
"It's one of those things that is going to be good for the country, because not every parent is going to want to work... but seven out of 10 mums are saying 'I want to go back to work but I can't because of the cost of childcare'".
Ed Miliband maintained there were "hundreds" of Sure Start centres which had been forced to close due to Government cuts, despite the Department of Education's claim only 45 had closed.
The Labour leader was adamant "our figures are correct" and that there were now 576 fewer Sure Start centres since the last General Election.
He went on to continue his party's pledge to support primary school children as well as under-fives with adequate childcare if Labour win the next election.
The Department for Education has disputed Ed Miliband's childcare figures, saying they "could not be further from the truth".
Mr Miliband claims there are 35,000 fewer childcare places and 576 fewer Sure Start centres since the last General Election.
However, the Department for Education said only 45 Sure Start centres have shut down since 2010 and new ones have opened with a record number of parents using them.
Nick Clegg defended the Government's record on social mobility and claimed the most deprived members of the next generation would have their chances improved through free childcare.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, the Deputy Prime Minister reiterated his pledge for 92,000 of the UK's poorest toddlers to have 15 hours of free childcare per week.
One of the "most important things" to improve social mobility is to "start early", he told Mr Marr.
Clegg continued: "For the 20% lowest income families, for the first time ever their two-year-olds will get 15 hours pre school support.
"Their three-four-year-olds will receive 15 hours of pre-school support."
Ed Miliband has vowed to make adequate, cost effective childcare part of his "One Nation Labour" vision.
In a speech expected later today, the Labour leader will offer to extend the hours three and four-year-olds can spend on a free nursery place.
– Labour leader Ed Miliband
One Nation Labour would stand up for families and make work pay. We would extend free nursery places for three and four year-olds from 15 to 25 hours a week for parents at work.
And we would offer a legal guarantee to parents with kids at primary school that they can access breakfast clubs or homework clubs, allowing mums and dads to do a full days' work knowing their children are safe and cared for."
The "childcare crunch" is also affecting families with school-age children, as suitable after class childcare becomes more expensive or is cut by the local council, Labour will say.
In a speech on the rising costs of childcare and squeeze on wages, Mr Miliband will say:
– Labour leader Ed Miliband
This childcare crunch is affecting families with kids at school too. Parents are facing a daily obstacle course as they seek to balance work and family life.
Under the last government 99% of schools provided access to breakfast clubs and after-school clubs.
But more than a third of local authorities have reported this has been scaled back in their area under David Cameron.
The Tories say they care about families but they have done nothing to help for three years while all the time adding to the stress and strain of family life.
The Government's decision to close Sure Start children's centres has exacerbated the lack of childcare in the UK and left families struggling to find adequate care on a tight budget, Labour are expected to say.
Labour leader Ed Miliband will point out that there are 35,000 fewer childcare places and 576 fewer Sure Start centres since the last general election in a wide-ranging speech on childcare later today.
Mr Miliband is pushing childcare as a major feature of Labour's campaign to focus on the "cost of living crisis" ahead of the next general election.
He will say: "An average of three Sure Start centres is being lost every single week, contributing to a total of 35,000 fewer childcare places under David Cameron. And all at a time when the number of children under-fours in England has risen by 125,000."
The Opposition leader launched Labour's childcare policies at September's party conference, including an extension of free childcare for three and four year-olds to 25 hours a week for working parents, paid for by a levy on banks.
Parents are facing a "childcare crunch" with rises in the cost of a nursery place outstripping the slow growth of wages, Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to say in a speech later today.
The average cost of a weekly nursery place has risen 30%, with Labour figures claiming 25 hours of childcare for an infant aged two or over per week costs £25 more than it did in 2010.
However, the average wage has only risen by £28 over the last three years, climbing from £449 to £477 per week.
Mr Miliband is expected to say: "We need to use the talents of everyone if we are to succeed as an economy and keep social security bills down.
"Seven out of 10 stay-at-home-mums tell surveys that the cost of childcare has deterred them from looking for a job."