Were you that strange child?
If so, you might just be a changeling!
A changeling is thought to be a fairy child that has been secretly swapped and left in the place of a normal, human child.
This changeling child is normally the offspring of a fairy, elf or troll. Though in some cases an enchanted piece of wood is sometimes left instead.
This fake, wooden child will quickly become sick and die soon after the swap takes place.
Vigilant parents can ward against a fairy swap by leaving iron scissors near where the child sleeps or by dressing the child with their clothes on inside out.
This clothes method can also be used to ward against fairies if you are passing near to where they may live - such as walking through the woods.
It can be extremely difficult to spot a changeling child as they normally look exactly like the child that they have replaced. However, a keen eye may be able to spot a slight change in height, weight or the colour of the eyes.
If a parent starts to suspect that their child may have been swapped then there are a few tests that they could perform in order to make sure.
Many of these tests were designed to trick the changeling child into revealing that it might not be quite as human as it was pretending to be - either by doing something a normal child wouldn't be able to do, or by saying something which would show what they really are.
Sometimes the parents would just leave their child alone in a dangerous place, such as a dark forest.
This idea of a 'swapped fairy child' is a very common theme throughout history and can be linked with parents concerns over children in ill health or suffering from strange, unknown diseases and disorders back when medicine held very few answers.
When medicine fails you, turn to magic for the answers!
It was easier to assume your real child had been taken far away and replaced with a fake one, than admit that they might be seriously ill.
Books with Changelings: