Parents are resorting to borrowing money from friends and family or turning to their credit card in order to meet extortionate nursery costs, a survey has revealed.
More than a third of parents have considering quitting work because of the struggle to meet childcare costs, it also emerged.
Around one in eight (12%) have actually left a job, while one in five have turned a job offer down because of the cost of childcare, according to a survey by Mumsnet and the Daycare Trust.
It comes just days after Prime Minister David Cameron launched a commission on childcare which is to look into how to bring down the cost to parents and increase the supply of places.
Parents are resorting to borrowing in order to send their child to nursery or a childminder, with 14% taking money from friends and family, or paying on a credit card.
The survey, which questioned around 1,000 parents shows that for one in five (21%), childcare costs more than their family's rent or mortgage.
The findings also show that parents are keen for the government and employers to do more to support families needing childcare.
Over three quarters (77%) said they don't think the government does enough to help parents with the cost, with just under half (47%) saying employers should contribute more.
Almost two thirds (61%) of those questioned said that they would accept lower benefits, such as freezing child benefit for 10 years, if childcare was made free or more affordable.
Justine Roberts, chief executive and co-founder of Mumsnet said: "Today's figures show just how serious the impact of high childcare costs is. As a nation we spend more on childcare than most others in Western Europe, yet lots of parents are unable to work because childcare costs make it uneconomic."
Cameron's new commission, led by children's minister Sarah Teather and work and pensions minister Maria Miller, is to look at ways of driving down costs by reducing the red-tape burden on providers.
And it will explore innovative schemes to provide "wrap-around care" for over-fives at the beginning and end of the school day and during the holidays.
Childcare is now one of the top cost-of-living burdens on families, with a recent Daycare Trust report suggesting that the average annual cost of part-time care for an under-two now tops £5,000 - with prices up to three times that level in London.