The article offers a comparison of the development of institutions of care for children under the age of three in France and in the Czech Republic. It explains the differences in the forms of institutions, policies and the level of statesupport using a comparative analysis of the discourses of childcare that have existed in the two countries since the end of the Second World War. Expert discourses in particular were found to have an important role in the development of institutions and policies: psychological discursive framings had a strong influence on the public discourse, political decisions and the resulting form of institutions. While in France mainly empirically‑oriented psychologists and pedagogues entered the debate, in Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic the discursive arena was dominated by clinical psychologists and paediatricians. Other influential factors were identified, such as the economic situation, political actors, social movements; and sequencing of events; but the expert discourse was proved to be crucial for the understanding of the divergent development of childcare institutions in the two countries.
key words: discourse, institutionalism, childcare