Some parents might joke that one of their kids had to be switched at birth because their child’s interests are so different than their own, or because their kiddo looks nothing like either or them, but definitely acts like them.
Others take the idea of a hospital mixup less lightly. An expecting mom took to TikTok to share the fear that her child will accidentally be switched with another infant at the hospital — and her plan to make sure that absolutely does not happen.
The solution? Painting her child’s toenail with nail polish.
“Have y’all seen switched at birth? Yeah.. he’s getting a cute white or blue toe at birth lmfao,” she captioned the video.
"People thinking I'm crazy for thinking of painting my sons toenail when he's born. Me paranoid because I've hears of babies being switched at birth so whatever works & keeps me at ease I'll do,” she explained via captions in her TikTok as “Crazy” by Patsy Cline plays in the background.
She isn’t alone in this fear, though. Others sounded off in the comment section. “I just didn’t let them take my baby out the room whatsoever. They did everything right in front of me,” said one, to which the TikTok mom replied that she wanted that as well, but wanted to be “extra prepared in case baby has to leave room.”
A self-described NICU nurse chimed in and seemed to confirm that the poster’s pedicure is a good idea. “Saying this as a NICU nurse either me or hubby will have eyes on baby at absolutely all times and he’ll get a pedicure incase he has to go to the NICU.”
Others reassured the worried mom, noting that many hospitals have matching wristbands for the mother and baby that don’t come off until they are discharged from the hospital. Most hospital units that have babies on the floor, like NICU and labor and delivery, are locked units, which means you need staff approval to enter or exit.
More and more hospitals are also introducing tech, such as digital footprinting and beeping tags (like the ones on clothing), to both ease fears and ensure that that fear doesn’t become a reality.
So, how often are infants accidentally switched at birth? A quick Google search leads to an alarming statistic from a 1998 Baltimore Sun article claiming that 28,000 babies are switched each year (for the most part, temporarily) out of about 4 million births in the United States.
Fortunately, the reality is much less horrifying. According to the Joint Commission in Chicago, only eight babies have been switched in hospitals in a more serious manner between 1995 and 2008 across 4,500 hospitals.
Still, that’s eight babies going to the wrong homes.
“When something like this happens, it’s considered a sentinel event, meaning it’s very serious and requires immediate attention,” Joint Commission spokesperson Elizabeth Zhani told San Francisco Gate. “We work with the organization to determine why it happened and we help them put new procedures into place to make sure it never happens again.”
So while the likelihood of this mother’s fear being actualized is slim to none, there’s no harm in using a nontoxic nail polish to paint your infant’s toe if it makes you feel safer giving birth in a hospital setting. Just hope that the mom giving birth the next room over is using a different shade.