Extended daycare for children is causing stress for many young children which could have long-term consequences for their mental and physical health as adults, a report commissioned by Family First says.
The report by British-based American psychologist Aric Sigman said studies had shown increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol among 70 to 80 per cent of toddlers in daycare.
"There is growing evidence of profound beneficial neurobiological effects a mother's physical presence has on her young child that cannot be achieved by anyone else including paid childcare workers," Dr Sigman said.
"Mothers have been undervalued. New Zealand should undergo a timely and long overdue re-evaluation of motherhood."
Dr Sigman, whose arguments on issues surrounding children have been controversial in Britain, said full-time parenting should be seen as a child's right.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said there had been too much policy focus on the needs of the economy and the demands on mothers rather than the welfare of children.