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Switched at Birth

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One baby, often a newborn, is secretly exchanged for another.

It may be a living baby for a dead one, the son of a rich family for the baby of a beggar, or an accidental swap in the hospital nursery. In any case, the problem is that the babies were swapped, and they won't find out until later in life. Usually at the worst possible time. This is a frequent cause of Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling, where the switched child often ends up in poverty or riches.

A favorite of Soap Operas around the world. With all the use this trope has had, you'd think that it would be a Dead Horse Trope by now, but it's still alive and kicking.

Compare Moses in the Bulrushes and the twin specific version Separated at Birth. Contrast Baby as Payment, where a baby is exchanged for anything that is not another baby.

Someone who fantasizes they were switched at birth has a Changeling Fantasy.

Changeling Tale is an older subtrope involving elves snatching babies. They will often replace it with a Doppelgänger. Related to Prince and Pauper.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Jack has the chapter "Switched". A mother is blackmailed by a particularly unpleasant woman, who claims to have seen her switch her baby with another one in the maternity ward shortly after discovering that her son had a rare, most likely terminal condition. Once she can no longer make the payments, the mother allows her blackmailer to accuse her of kidnapping. The key witness is Dr. Black Jack, who reveals that it's a subversion - he states that he operated on the child, curing his condition, and that the scar on the child is proof that he belongs to his mother. On the way out, he informs the the blackmailer that after the operation, he saw the child's unknowing mother switch the babies... and switched them back.
  • A Couple of Cuckoos starts when the Umino and Amano families have their babies, a boy and a girl, swapped for one another after they were born on the same day. It's played with, since the parents realize very quickly that the children aren't their own and raise them anyway. Both children are engaged to be married by the time they're in high school.
  • Henkyou no Roukishi Bard Loen: Kaldus Coendera tries to claim that the son King Windellan is looking for, Joulran, has been raised as Zeon Coendera after a switcheroo. It proves to be fruitless as Joulran Tersia has an unusual physical trait only the royal family members have.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, a mother whose new-born died after birth swap hers for a living child... in the process splitting up two fraternal twins. This comes back in the end, when the sibling relationship is revealed.
  • The final arc of Kinnikuman revolves around the revelation that there was a fire in the hospital on the day the prince of Planet Kinniku was born — and in the confusion he may have been switched with any one of five other newborn boys. A tournament between the six now-grown possible princes is organized to determine the real deal; as it turns out the Kinnikuman everyone is familiar with, Suguru, was the real prince all along.
  • Played for Laughs in Monster Musume. In an omake featuring Miia, Centorea, and Papi's mothers together, Papi's mother explains that harpies in the same family group have an Uncanny Family Resemblance to the point of being Inexplicably Identical Individuals. When Miia's mother jokes about the possibility of Papi getting mixed up with one of her relatives, Papi's mother blithely admits that it has happened several times.
    Papi's mother: But I'm pretty sure Papi's really Papi. I think.
  • In PandoraHearts, protagonist Oz Vessalius is revealed to be the chain Oz the B-rabbit inhabiting the cursed body of Tragic Villain and Manipulative Bastard Jack Vessalius. He was switched with Zai Vessalius's real, stillborn child at birth as part of Jack's plan to reunite Alice and the B-rabbit. He does not take this revelation well at all.
  • The Tokyo Ghoul light novels introduce Ikuma Momochi, a Ghoul that was raised by Muggle Foster Parents. The night Ghoul Investigators came to kill his mother, a human doctor just happened to be preparing to kill herself over the death of her own child. The two women switched babies, allowing Ikuma to be raised as a human child. Unlike most examples, he's aware of his origins but Happily Adopted.

    Comic Books 
  • This was Mary Batson/Bromsfield's backstory in classic Captain Marvel comics: a nurse faced with orphaned twins and a rich woman who'd lost her baby decided to give one of the babies to Mrs Bromsfield rather than actually tell anyone anything.
  • The Flash: It was retconned that Barry Allen had a twin brother who was believed stillborn; however, the doctor actually switched his twin with another couple's dead baby to keep them from pressing charges for botching the delivery, and he was raised as Malcolm Thawne. When Malcolm realized this was one of the reasons for his terrible childhood, he killed the doctor in a rage, demanding to know why he was the one to be taken.
  • Invincible heroine Atom Eve has this as her backstory. The scientist in charge of the Super-Soldier project that created Eve felt guilty about condemning the unborn Eve to life as a lab experiment and had her Switched At Birth with a stillborn child. The parents were initially surprised to see Eve after being told their baby hadn't survived, but quickly decided it wasn't important — their daughter was alive and that was all that mattered.
  • The last part of the prologue of the Usagi Yojimbo "Grass-Cutter" arc mentions a daimyo who, according to legend, was the result of his grandmother switching her actual granddaughter for the son of an umbrella merchant so their domain would have a male heir. As his cowardice brings ruin to his land, the old woman, preparing to sacrifice the emperor's child to keep him from falling into enemy hands, tells the empress that the story was true.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The original sprawling story of "Beauty and the Beast" used this in Beauty's case; her (fairy) mother exchanged her as an infant with the merchant's dead daughter. In the grand reveal at the end, she learns of her noble birth and first-cousin relationship to the former Beast.

     Fan Works 
  • Blood Sisters swiftly establishes that Charlie and Renee Swan’s actual child was stillborn, but shortly after the birth someone literally gave them another baby (Carlisle speculates this party was a fae who compelled the Swans to adopt Bella, which Edward basically confirms when Charlie can’t properly recall anything about the other party).
  • The plot of Phantom and the Knight is kicked off when Danny finds out that he was one of the many victims of Dr. van Wagner, a Mad Doctor who preformed three decades worth of baby-switching experiments in a misguided attempt to study Nature Versus Nurture behavior. After spending some time discussing the matter, Jack and Maddie decide to share custody of Danny with his biological father: Bruce Wayne.

    Films — Animated 
  • This happens in The Princess and the Pea. Daria (the princess) was switched by Laird with his daughter, Hildegard, so that he could get his vengeance on his brother, Heath. Part of Laird's plan was to pretend that their baby died shortly after birth so that his wife could help raise their daughter to grow up into a Royal Brat. Meanwhile, Daria was sent to live with pig farmer peasants.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A similar theme is used in the 1988 film Big Business with Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler playing the mismatched sets of twins - each named Rose (Tomlin) and Sadie (Midler) - of a rural working family and a wealthy urban family. Unusually, in the end neither birth nor upbringing turns out to provide the stronger link between the women; instead, urban Rose and country Sadie are Wide Eyed Idealists while country Rose and urban Sadie are aggressive and cynical.
  • Lifetime's Deadly Daughter Switch has Hailey and Breanne finding out they were given to the wrong parents when they were born and now have to figure out where they want to live and how their respective families deal with the fallout.
  • Parodied in the film Delirious, where a man trapped inside a soap opera is outraged with the changes its current head writer is making. One of them is the show's idealistic heroine being revealed to have been switched at birth with the daughter of the rich villainous family that runs the whole town, causing her to INSTANTLY become exactly like them.
  • A flashback in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald reveals that Leta Lestrange, exhausted and unable to sleep due to her baby half-brother Corvus's constant crying, switched him with another random baby boy from the room next door so she could get some rest, intending to exchange them back the next morning. Unfortunately, the ship they were traveling on sank that very night, Leta never got the chance to reveal the swap to anyone else, and the lifeboat that the real Corvus was on capsized, resulting in his death by drowning. Leta and the other baby survived, and the latter grew up to become Credence Barebone, later revealed to actually be Aurelius Dumbledore.
    Leta Lestrange: I never wanted to hurt him. I just wanted to be free of him. Just for a moment...
  • The Italian movie Il 7 e l'8 start in an infant nursery in Palermo (Italy) where a male nurse exchanges the labels of baby number 7 and 8 (is later revealed that he was angry because had lost a lottery for a single number, the 8 instead of 7). Thirty-one years later Tommaso (7) and Daniele (8) meet each other by accident and, after some events, they discover the truth.
  • The very same year, French black comedy La vie est un long fleuve tranquille mixed this theme with Slobs Versus Snobs. On Christmas Eve, as she was rejected by her married OB-GYN lover, a midwife switched two babies born that night, a white-trash girl and a well-bred boy. After a final betrayal, twelve years later, the midwife reveals the ugly truth, and the boy comes to live with his rightful family. But as he was raised within a family of crass thieves - but loving ones anyway -, soon, the kid teaches his wealthy parents they should have thought about it twice before taking him back...
  • In Japanese drama Like Father, Like Son, a blood test reveals six-years-old Keita and another boy were switched at birth by a vengeful nurse which leads to two very different families being thrown together and forced to make a difficult decision. Ultimately, the film asks the question: Would you choose your natural son, or the son you believed was yours after spending six years together?
  • The Omen (1976) began with an swap between a dead baby and a mysterious newborn.
  • In Relative Fear, the autistic son of an insane Serial Killer is switched with the child of a perfectly normal middle-class couple.
  • The Eric Idle/Rick Moranis vehicle Splitting Heirs was a pretty straightforward take on this.
  • The most mind-hurting example is in the 1970 movie Start the Revolution Without Me. In pre-Revolutionary France, two sets of identical twins are born on the same night and delivered by the same doctor, so there are four babies. The midwife and doctor can't remember which is which, so they shuffle them a bit so "at least we'll be half right". They grow up as two sets of fraternal twins, one aristocratic, one revolutionary peasant. Then the French Revolution comes around...
  • The aptly titled 1991 TV movie Switched At Birth 1991 (no relation to the TV series) is based on the true story of Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg.
  • 1991's Toto The Hero features the main protagonist believing that he was switched at birth with the neighbour's baby, and setting out to get the life that he believed was his.
  • In White Frog, Oliver used to wonder if this happened with his younger son Nick, since he doesn't look much like either of his parents and nobody else in the family has his "problem."

  • In the third volume of The Accursed Kings, this is basically what is done with Jean, the newly born king of France and Gianinno Baglioni, though they were already a few days old. It has tragic consequences, as Mahaut of Artois poisons Giannino, believing he was the young king. Giannino's mother Marie therefore decides to raise the little king as her own son and to pass him off as Giannino. Jean's actual mother, Clémence, never hears about this and dies thinking she lost both her husband and her son. When "Giannino" discovers the truth and reclaims his heritage, no one believes him.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series (Anne of Ingleside), a mean little girl convinces one of Anne and Gilbert's twin daughters, Nan, that she was switched at birth with a fisherman's daughter. The girl insists that twins always look alike, and the fact that Nan and her twin Di don't, being fraternal twins, it proves that they were switched at birth. Nan does the honorable thing and tries to switch back, only to be told by the fisherman's wife that her daughter is nearly a year older than she is, and therefore they could not have been switched. Quite relieved, Nan turns to go home and gets caught in a storm before returning safely. Anne and Gilbert are understandably upset.
  • The Diminished: Major spoilers. It turns out that Bo is not the original Ambrose Trousillion, but actually his father's illegitimate child with a housemaid. The original Ambrose died when he was several months old, so Bo (birth name Prudence) was brought in to replace him as his parents' singleborn, being separated from his twin sister.
  • The Dream-Maker's Magic: This turns out to be the reason behind Kellen's mother's belief that her daughter was born a son. She actually did. However, she was comatose for a few days after giving birth, and the midwife conspired with another woman who had given birth in the same inn at the same time, Kellen's birth mother, to swap the babies because Kellen's birth mother wanted a son. Kellen deduces this after meeting her older sister. The story is confirmed by a Secret-Keeper Kellen's mother had told the story to (due to his powers, he couldn't reveal the secret until after Kellen and her sister had deduced the story themselves).
  • The Elemental Trilogy: Attempted. Lady Callista attempted to have Aramia and Iolanthe switched in infancy to hide her affair with Wintervale, but the two were switched back by Commander Rainstone.
  • The False Princess: Protagonist Sinda learns that she, a commoner, was switched with Princess Nalia because of a prophecy that the princess was in danger of dying by her sixteenth birthday, while the princess was raised in a convent. It turns out to actually be a three-way baby swap. The antagonist, a countess and mage descended from a prince who lost a succession war to his older twin sister several centuries before, arranged for the prophecy, which was fake. She then faked the stillbirth of her own daughter, and had her daughter sent to the convent as the princess. The real princess was sent to the countess' fief and raised by a woman the countess enchanted so she would believe Nalia was her own daughter, bespelled to be an outcast in the village so she'd remain too poor to leave. Sinda discovers all this in part due to her own magic powers, which were suppressed by a spell that made her look more like the princess until it was removed.
  • In an obvious nod to The Omen (1976), Good Omens starts with a baby swap that doesn't go quite the way the swappers plan.
    • To be fair, they had to deal with three babies, not two; "a golden-haired male baby we will call Baby A," "a golden-haired male baby we will call Baby B," and "a golden-haired male baby we will call the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness".
    • Notably, the hitch that messes up the switch is a result of complete dumb luck rather than any intentional sabotage: each party, including the two patsies, comes away genuinely and reasonably believing that things have gone as they should have. It lends credence to the suggestion throughout the book that God's actual plan is a lot more complex than the simple Armageddon that the demons and angels are preparing for.
  • Half's Saga: Worried that her husband King Hjor could reject her twin sons because of their ugliness (which would result in their exposure), Queen Hagny swaps them with the handsome newborn son of a serving woman. Unfortunately the false prince turns out timid while the twins are aggressive and grow much faster and stronger. When the boys are three years old, the poet Bragi correctly guesses that the prince is fake and that the twins are the true heirs, causing Hagny to come clear and swap them back.
  • Discussed in If I Stay. Mia jokes that she thinks she was this because her family loves rock and she prefers the cello.
  • Ava brings Isabel her newborn baby brother to replace her own dead, deformed child in The Kingdom of Little Wounds.
  • In "Lady Clare", a lengthy poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the titular noblewoman discovers that her nursemaid Alice is actually her biological mother, who had been the nursemaid of the real Lady Clare. When the earl's daughter died, Alice switched the infants and claimed the dead baby as her own so as not to deprive the noble family of their only child.
  • In Life Expectancy, by Dean Koontz, two women give birth on the same night, with the same medical staff caring for them. One dies after bearing twins, the other survives the stillbirth of her child. A kindly nurse, faced with a psychotically enraged new widower - when we say "psychotically enraged", we mean "shot and killed the attending doctor" - manages to not let him find out he's the father of twins, and he removes the baby he knows about from the hospital. The other baby is switched for the stillborn child, whose mother is not yet aware her own child did not live. The switched twin becomes protagonist Jimmy Tock, while his twin is villain Punchinello Beezo.
  • As was the protagonist of Roger Zelazny's Madwand. In the end the two changelings end up making war on each other.
  • Midnight's Children has Saleem and Shiva. One was born from a wealthy family, while the other was born from a poor family; the midwife was in love with a Communist at the time, and so she switched them to echo his principles. One of them (Saleem) says he doesn't care about his true parentage, and still considers his adoptive family his true one his family. Notably, this is one of the few twists in the book that Saleem doesn't spoil in advance or even hint at. Padma feels betrayed by it as a result.
  • This is part of the plot of Mark Twain's novel Pudd'nhead Wilson, involving two sons of a white plantation owner, one by his wife and one by a slave woman, being switched at birth by the slave so her son could live a life of privilege. The titular Wilson finds out almost twenty years later, when he takes the defense of an Italian man (himself a twin) who has been mistakenly accused of murder — and the slave's son is the culprit. In the end, after Wilson reveals the whole switch to save his client, the slave's son is formally enslaved and sold down the river, and the wife's kid is brought back into the family... but he's a Fish out of Water and not happy about it.
  • A lot of baby-shuffling occurs in Septimus Heap. The title character is pronounced dead at birth by the midwife, but she actually steals him and he ends up getting switched with her own son. Meanwhile, Septimus' father finds an abandoned baby girl, and since his wife is known to have been pregnant and they think their baby is dead, they adopt the girl and pretend she's their own daughter.
  • In Shadow (2010), Shadow/Queen Audrey was switched with peasant girl Devona at birth, in an attempt to protect her from the prophecy that was given at her birth.
  • At least two instances in A Song of Ice and Fire. In A Feast for Crows, Mance Rayder's son is switched with Gilly's son in order to prevent Melisandre from taking advantage of his "royal blood" as a sacrifice to R'hllor. A Dance with Dragons reveals someone who claims to be Aegon Targaryen and survived his apparent murder due to a baby swap.
  • The fantasy novel Split Heirs involves a royal set of boy/girl triplets, where the girl, and younger boy triplet were supposed to be secretly sent off to be raised by the queens brother, while the firstborn boy was to be raised to be the heir to a warrior kingdom. A mix up occurs, and the girl is raised as a prince, and becomes a fearsome warrior, while one boy becomes a shepherd, and the other a wizard's apprentice. The culture of the story thought that multiple births meant the queen had been unfaithful, which would have meant her execution. Also, a girl would not have been able to inherit the throne, so the queen kept the girl's sex a secret even to the girl herself.
  • A subplot of Fannie Flagg's Standing In The Rainbow involves Minnie Oatman (of the Oatman Family Gospel Singers)'s baby being inadvertently switched at the hospital with that of a local socialite. While the Oatmans are plump and gregarious, Betty Ray is slender and painfully shy.
  • In the Ancient Egyptian romance Uarda the son of a noble Egyptian is exchanged with that of a humble gardener - a fact that becomes painfully obvious to the reader long before the reveal.
  • In Tokyo Ravens, it's revealed that Harutora is the true child of Yasuzumi and reincarnation of their ancestor, Yakou. In order to protect him, he was swapped with the Doorstep Baby Natsume who was raised as a decoy for the conspirators pursuing the child. It worked right up until Natsume's gender was revealed and the deception was realized.
  • The protagonist of Tad Williams' The War of the Flowers was born in the Magical Land, but switched at birth for a child from the mundane world in an Equivalent Exchange.
  • In Andre Norton's Witch World novel The Jargoon Pard, Kethan is switched at birth for a woman's daughter, because only a son can inherit. At the climax, this is revealed to the woman and his parents; they reveal that actually, they knew it for a long time. Kethan nearly despairs because his purported mother no longer wants him, because she can no longer use him. After the fight, however, his parents eagerly lay claim both to their biological son and the daughter they raised.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used in The Amanda Show on Moody's Point; the title character was apparently switched at birth with a child of circus performers, which the doctor explains casually to the family while eating a snack. Of course, the other side is never resolved but this was probably intentional.
  • This trope is what prevents straight Brother–Sister Incest in the Korean drama Autumn In My Heart: the main couple were raised as biological siblings, and in their teenage years, when their feelings become muddy, it's revealed that she was inadvertently exchanged with another baby girl because her older brother, a toddler back then, entered in the nursery and exchanged the name tags.
  • A Blossom episode had Joey worried about this when he learned it could have happened, and had a Dream Sequence about his "real family", who were played by the same actors but were all idiots, with an intellectual Joseph feeling as out of place there as Joey sometimes did with the Russos.
  • Castle has an episode where two babies were switched at birth because one of the fathers knew that his child had an always-fatal hereditary disease.
  • Cursed (2020): It turns out that Uther isn't actually royalty. He was just the son of a peasant woman, and when the queen gave birth to a stillborn baby, she took him from her (also murdering his mother to cover it up). He's outraged after discovering this, and then kills his putative mother in revenge.
  • The entire premise of Mexican TV series Daughter From Another Mother is based on two women from very different families dealing with the fact that the accidental exchange of their daughters in the hospital they were born has brought their lives irrevocably together.
  • Days of Our Lives does this quite frequently.
    • Nicole Walker for instance switched the baby of Mia that she would adopt, with the baby of Sami Brady.
    • Stefano DiMera switched Zack Brady with J.T. Reiber.
  • On The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "That's My Boy?!" Rob was convinced that Richie had been switched with another baby at the hospital, because the the hospital kept confusing Richie Petrie with Richie Peters (delivering the wrong flowers etc.) and baby Richie didn't look like either parent. That is, until he met the Peters family, who were black resulting in one of the longest laughs in TV history.
    Rob Petrie: Why didn't you tell me on the phone?
    Mr. Peters: And miss the expression on your face? He's played by Greg Morris, later known for his work as Barney Collier on Mission: Impossible.
    • The end scenes had Rob say the Peters' son, Jimmy is a straight-A top student, while Richie...isn't. He then insists, "I still think we got the wrong kid!" Laura playfully hits him with a sofa pillow.
  • An episode of Dinosaurs revolved around the possibility that Baby Sinclair had been Switched At BirthLaying. It's heavily implied that this is in fact the case (the other baby is even green, like the rest of the family, while the other family is pink like Baby) but of course he ends up remaining with the Sinclair family. That being said, baby Aubrey turned out to be so cloyingly sweet and agreeable that the Sinclairs sent him back to his family.
  • Drop Dead Diva has one episode where Jane represents a woman who figured out she was switched at birth.
  • Family Law has Dani and Randi each representing one half of a couple in a very bitter custody battle. When the question of paternity comes up, the judge orders tests which prove the husband isn't the father...and the wife isn't the mother. They realize a switch occurred and go to meet their real son. However, the couple gets into one of their usual wild fights which convinces the other couple that neither son should be with them and sue for custody. Randi lays out how the judge hates the two as much as she and Dani do and how they've spent two years accusing the other of being an unfit parent...which means the judge can rule neither of them should be. She ends up being proved right.
  • Happened in an episode of Ghost Whisperer, where the ghost of the week discovers she'd been switched at birth shortly after her death, and plans to tell the girl she was switched with, despite both their parents not wanting her to know.
  • Like in the book, the miniseries adaptation of Good Omens begins with a baby swap that doesn’t quite go to plan, resulting in the forces of Heaven and Hell monitoring the activity of a normal human child whom they believe to be the Antichrist, whilst the actual Antichrist is raised by a normal human family. It isn’t until 11 years later that they realize their mistake, and the race to get to the real Antichrist begins.
  • Home and Away where we learn Jade was accidentally swapped with another baby, who turns out to be identical to Jade's (previously though to be) fraternal twin Kirsty.
  • Subverted in an episode of Kenan & Kel, in which Kenan Rockmore thinks that he was switched at birth with another baby born at the same time named Kevin Rockmore. At the end, the other Rockmores are shown to be Asian-American.
  • In The Middle, Brick was switched at birth with Blake Ferguson at the hospital, so that the wrong family took care of each baby. The mistake was sorted out in a month—no more, no less. It was of course a shock to Brick when he found out his parents' secret.
  • Mouse (2021): Ba-reum and Yo-han are switched at birth. Ba-reum's mother deliberately switched them because she didn't want to raise her Serial Killer husband's son.
  • Done on Neighbours when Bree is revealed to have been switched with another baby at birth. Coincidentally the other baby has been blind from a young age, implying that Switched At Birth may have taken its inspiration from here.
  • Night and Day's Jane Harper and Della Wells, by Danny Dexter – as revenge for being driven out of town by Jane’s mother Natalie. This was the central reveal at the end of the series, since Jane had been having an affair with Della's ostensible father Alex - who in fact turned out to be her own.
  • One Life to Live is the baby switch headquarters of American soaps. In the early 80s, Karen Wolek switched her sister's dead baby for a living one, a switch that went on for years. Later, Gabrielle switched Alicia's dead baby with Brenda's living son. In 2004, a major Crossover with All My Children saw Kelly from OLTL raising the child of Babe from AMC, who in turn had best friend Bianca's baby. The most recent involves Bess, an alternate personality of Jessica, who switched Jessica's dead baby for Starr's.
  • In the Brazilian Soap Opera Por Amor, a mother switched her newborn for the dead baby of her first daughter. The mother did it in order to relieve the bad news that her daughter became sterile through her difficult birthing. When the daughter, the daughter's husband, and the mother's husband (the baby's father) found out, they were less than pleased.
  • On Road to Avonlea (broadcast in the U.S. as simply "Avonlea"), Felicity and her friend Sally were born on the same day with the same flighty doctor present. When they harass her about not having a mother, Sarah forges a letter from the doctor confessing to switching the babies by accident. Aunt Hetty catches on, but first suggests that they switch the girls back, since the mothers had earlier made a big point of her not being able to understand motherhood, having never given birth.
  • The Studio C sketch "I'm Adopted?" has Stacey (who is black) finding out from his parents, Matt and Mallory (who are white) that this happened to him, instead of being adopted like he suspected. The parents were just too stupid to notice. Turns out his biological parents are... Asian?
  • The premise of the Drama TV Series Switched at Birth, which is about two teenage girls, Bay Kennish and Daphne Vasquez, who were switched at birth.
  • Veronica Mars contains an example. Veronica discovers that her friend Mac was switched at birth with Madison Sinclair. When the mistake was discovered several years later, the hospital paid a substantial amount of money to both families, but the parents decided to keep the babies they were raising. Madison's parents managed to get rich, while Mac's father's business venture failed. Madison's mother is interested in getting to know her biological daughter, but Mac's parents aren't.
  • In Young Dracula, Robin has a Changeling Fantasy that centres around the idea that he and Vlad were swapped at birth. They weren't, but Ingrid fakes a diary to convince everyone that they were. Hilarity Ensues.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin's dad has once commented about how he's certain that some nurse switched the basinettes.


    Video Games 
  • Battle for Wesnoth: Near the end of Heir to the Throne, it's revealed that Konrad was actually a random human baby whom Delfador and the elves switched with the real, infant, but dead Prince Konrad.
  • BlueSkies: Prince Caven discovers that he and Skye were actually switched at birth, since Xmeil would have discovered Skye is a Celestial if Skye was announced as the prince of Gemeid. Caven is upset at his parents for lying about this, but eventually decides to accept this and support Skye as his protector.
  • This was a major story point in Shadow of Destiny, where the two female characters in the game (one from the past, one from the present) turned out to have been switched at birth by the "Homunculus" as part of his scheme to ensure that history turns out exactly as he wants it to.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, it turns out that Princess Natalia was actually not the blood princess of Kimlasca—the real princess Natalia was stillborn, and the midwife switched the infant with Meryl, her daughter's child. To make matters worse, Meryl/Natalia's real father was one of the Six God Generals, Largo the Black Lion. (Plus, her biological mother commited suicide out of grief).
  • A major reveal in Yakuza: Like a Dragon; Ichiban knows how Big Bad Ryo Aoki/ Masato Arakawa was put in a coin locker by his mother to protect him from gangsters, found later by his father Masumi. What he doesn't know is that Jo Sawashiro and his girlfriend had left their baby at the same locker in the hopes that it would perish or be picked up by someone else, who happened to be Arakawa. Arakawa's actual son was Ichiban, who was recovered by soapland attendants as a backup plan in case something went wrong.

    Visual Novels 
  • Hatoful Boyfriend has Sakuya, though it's not "switched" so much as "replaced". His brother Yuuya was supposed to kill him in the egg, but held on to him, switched his egg with his purebred half-brother's, and smashed that.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Rudolf Ushiromiya switched his wife's stillborn baby with his mistress Kyrie's to avoid a scandal. Kyrie's baby would grow up to be his son, Battler, while Rudolf was the only one who knew about his real parentage.

    Web Animation 
  • In My Story Animated episode, "I Found Who Swapped Me At Birth", Emily was swapped with another baby due to a mix-up at the hospital where they were born, and by the time her parents found out when she was five years old, they didn't want to give her up.


    Western Animation 
  • Captain Flamingo: In "Past Imperfect", after a monkey steals the baby distractor from Milo back in 1980, it causes him to switch at birth with the Warrior Monkey once they returned back to the future.
    Lizbeth: I can't believe it. The Warrior Monkey stole your life!
    Milo: They say that when you go back in time, one tiny change can alter history. We must have changed something by accident. Look at him! He's living in my room with my Quantum Vigilante stuff!
  • The Loud House episode "Not A Loud", has Lincoln suspecting this happened to him. This is further supported when he and Clyde encounter a family in which the parents both have white hair, but their daughter looks more like a younger version of Lori and has similar tastes in music and food to Luna and Lynn. When Lincoln confronts his parents with his discovery, and even accuses them of having bribed a doctor to make the switch, they debunk his theory and finally tell him the real story about his birth: That his parents were given a lift to the hospital by the President of the United States, and Lincoln was born in the limousine and delivered by the First Lady.

    Real Life 
  • Modern, western hospitals go through extraordinary measures to prevent this from happening, after some well-publicized (and very expensive) cases that came to light with the advent of DNA testing.
    • In Russia, it happened to two infant girls. The families still see each other frequently, and the girls still say "Mama"! when they see the other family's mother. Who miss them, actually.
    • One woman discovered that this happened to her father when she got her DNA tested for fun. Expecting Irish and British markers, there was instead Eastern European markers in her genes, and she went on a genealogical and historical hunt to discover whether her mother or grandmother had had an affair, or if she herself had been switched at birth. Sadly - or perhaps thankfully, depending on your point of view - both of the men, involved, Jim Collins and Phillip Benson had long since died.
  • In Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, this story was introduced as true: A woman discovered, thanks to her premarital exam, that her blood group wasn't like her parents'. She came to the hospital with her fiancé who was born the same day and at the same place on a confusing night (New Year's Eve, during a tempest). The mess led the nurses to write the wrong sex on minute books. So she was switched at birth, with her own future husband, no less.
  • As mentioned under Film, this happened to Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg which inspired the aforementioned TV film Switched at Birth.
  • Brood parasitism is a strategy used by certain bird species, most famously the Common Cuckoo, as well as some species of bee and wasps. Cuckoos combine this with Kill and Replace. Some cuckoos push away the birds' eggs and lay their own. With others, the chick itself (which hatches earlier than the host eggs) will push the eggs out of the nest to their doom. To add insult to injury, the Cuckoo chick is usually much larger than even its "parents" which means they have to struggle to feed it.
  • Inverted in the case of Patricia Noonan and Shawn Lake, two similar-looking teen girls who were involved in a car crash. Lake died and Noonan was in a coma; Noonan's parents were informed that their daughter had died and Lake's that theirs was in a coma.
  • A similar case happened with Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak in 2006. After a horrific car accident, Whitney and Laura were misidentified and the mix-up was not discovered for five weeks. Whitney Cerak's family was told that she was dead, while Laura Van Ryn's family spent weeks at the bedside of who they thought was Laura, but when "Laura" finally woke up, she told them her name was Whitney; doctors actually didn't believe her at first, thinking it was an effect of the head injury, but eventually it was established that she was correct. A book, Mistaken Identity, was written about the event.
  • In Colombia, two pairs of identical twins were switched and raised as fraternal twins.