The way that welfare policies influence the interpretative processes of social actors is attracting increasing attention. In this article, we investigate policy change impacts on ideas mothers have about the best form of care for their children. The data are taken from representative surveys among mothers of preschool-age children in 2002 and 2010 in Norway. The surveys cover a decade of marked reforms in childcare services with regard to the supply of places, parents’ fees and the right to be given a place in care. Policy change gave rise to major shifts in attitude. From conditional attitudes to the suitability of institutional care, the majority view shifted towards ‘childcare services only’ being considered the best form of care for preschool-age children. This occurred among mothers in all socio-economic groups and in all parts of the country. Based on policy feedback theories, mechanisms likely to have caused this shift – policy visibility, proximity and timing – are considered.