A recent study of grandparents who were caring for their young grandchildren on a regular basis has prompted an examination of what appears to be a paradox surrounding the provision of childcare services within Australia. The paradox reflects concerns surrounding the balance between a commitment to high-quality childcare services for children and families and the means by which this may be achieved. The choice that grandparents made to care for their grandchildren in caring and loving environments reflects a humanistic perspective. However, some grandparents raised concerns about what may be considered to be a property view of the child that places childcare within the context of a competitive marketplace. This article explores these issues using terminology drawn from the marketplace to traverse what appears to be an abyss between a business orientation and more humanistic approaches to early childhood education. Following the introduction of the paradox and an examination of market characteristics, the article concludes with questions about who the childcare consumer is, a consideration of approaches to consumer protection and reflections on childcare provision.