Objectives: The current study investigated (a) whether identifiable patterns of childcare arrangements from birth to 51 months exist and (b) whether these patterns moderate cognitive development from 18 months to 51 months in relation to maternal stimulation of language and infant difficult temperament controlling for SES and child gender. Methods: Of the 1201 who participated in the Families, Children Childcare Study, 978 were included in the current study. Data were collected when children were 3, 18, 36 and 51 months old regarding their mother-reported childcare arrangements, mother-reported child temperament and objective tests of cognitive and language abilities. Results: Six prevailing patterns of childcare arrangements were identified. Variations were found across these in predicting cognitive development. For all types, cognitive ability at 18 months influenced language ability at 36 months, which in turn influenced cognitive ability at 51 months. Cognitive scores at 18 months were directly and significantly influential on cognitive ability at 51 months only in the ‘maternal to centre-based care’ and ‘multi types’ patterns of childcare. Early and ongoing centre-based care predicted higher language ability at 36 months but its impact was not evident at 51 months. When girls entered centre-based care after they were 3 years old, their cognitive scores were negatively influenced. Low family SES was a risk factor for language ability at 36 months when children were not introduced to any non-parental care before the age of three years. Conclusion: This study helped to understand that the particular childcare pathway from birth to the start of school interacts with family and child factors to contribute to child cognitive outcomes at 51 months. This information should be relevant to families as they make decisions about when to start or stop different types of child care during infancy and preschool years.