The head of Barnardos Fergus Finlay claims it is too "simplistic" to say there is no difference between grandparents and creches when it comes to caring for children.
Mr Finlay has been commenting on a new study that shows toddlers develop largely the same social skills by the age of five - whether they are cared for by parents, relatives or in a childcare centre.
The 'Growing Up In Ireland' researchers also found that financial difficulty, living in areas of disadvantage, and being a boy all have a greater impact on a child's development.
Mr Finlay says it is a complicated issue but study mostly makes sense.
He said: "I think it's maybe a touch simplistic to say there is no difference.
"What the report found is that there are some really fundamental things which really affect a child's upbringing.
"If you take those things to one side and then you look at it from a child's perspective, it's not terribly surprising.