Changeling

(2 syl.) A peevish, sickly child. The notion used to be that the fairies took a healthy child, and left in its place one of their starveling elves which never did kindly

Oh, that it could be proved
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle-clothes our children as they lay,
And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!
Then would I have his Harry, and he mine.

Shakespeare: 1 Henry IV., i. 1.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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