More Dutch children are placed in some form of childcare than any other European nationality but it is mainly informal and for short periods, according to the national statistics office CBS.
In total, 77% of Dutch under-4s are cared for by people other than their parents at least some of the week, but fewer than half – 45% – go to a crèche or council playgroup, the CBS said.
However, the figures date from 2014 and are likely to underestimate the current situation. Earlier this year, the CBS said there was been a rise in the number of children in daycare for the first time in three years
In total, the government paid childcare benefits for 767,000 children last year, a 1.6% increase on 2014 but still well below the 835,000 payments recorded in 2011.
Most Dutch children also spend fewer than 30 hours a week in daycare than their northern European peers. This is partly explained by the popularity of part time work in the Netherlands, particularly among women, the CBS said.
Just 7% of Dutch children are in daycare for more than 30 hours a week. One third of Dutch parents use a combination of childcare options such as two days a week at a crèche and one day with grandparents or another relative, the CBS figures show.
Just 13% of preschoolers are exclusively looked after in formal daycare in the Netherlands, one of the lowest rates in Europe. In Denmark, by contrast, 70% of children go to official crèches.