Giving a shout-out to Professor D. L. Ashliman, Professor Emeritus of German at the University of Pittsburgh and a leading expert on folklore and fairytales. I dug deep into all his gathered information on changelings.
There are legends from Northern Europe to North Africa that elves, fairies, or demons could take a baby or child away with them and leave a creature in its place. Professor Ashliman theorizes that the legend was a way for families to explain a child suffering from an unknown illness. The methods to reveal the changeling (and hopefully get the real child returned) were, well, BRUTAL. While I do love the past and all, I’m really glad we don’t live in a time where any of those seem like a good idea!
It was from Professor Ashliman’s many sources that we discovered several ways to identify a changeling including: hairy hands, pointed sharp teeth, huge appetite, unusual screaming and crying, and odd appearances of nature indoors.
Our BIGGEST THANKS go to him for the only non-violent way to expose a changeling’s identity. You might need this method. Read about in Babysitting Nightmares: The Shadow Hand.
Here is some other cool info on the legends of the British Isles and Ireland.