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A changeling is a supernatural creature, usually a fairy and often described as ugly and nasty tempered, that has been secretly exchanged for a human baby.
In medieval folklore, the idea of a swapped child was quite common, indicating deeply rooted concern about misunderstood reasons for infant death, disease, and disorders. One supposed way to tell if a baby was a changeling was to boil eggshells in front of the suspect baby. If it laughed or spoke, it was not actually human. To reverse a swap, changelings were sometimes supposed to be scooped up by a red-hot shovel and tossed into chimney fire…then the original child would be returned unharmed.

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