13 Parents Share Terrifying Stories of Losing Their Kids -- It Can Happen to Anyone

13 Parents Share Terrifying Stories of Losing Their Kids -- It Can Happen to Anyone

zoo sign

There's been no lack of response to the incident of a 4-year-old child falling into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnatti Zoo (a misfortune which resulted in the shooting death of a silverback named Harambe). And while many animal lovers have attacked the child's mom for being irresponsible, a large number of parents are standing up for the mom, acknowledging a truth that everyone with children knows: Toddlers are fast, and accidents happen. In fact, little ones getting away from their caregivers is such a common occcurence that there's even a hashtag to prove it: #ivelostmykid.

The Sanctimommy Facebook page asked its followers to share their stories of escapist toddlers and split-second slip-ups, and they didn't disappoint: A seemingly endless stream of comments ensued, with each tale of woe more cringe-inducing than the last. (And we're talking about cringes of recognition, of course!)

Click through our slideshow to read some of the more harrowing stories -- and be thankful none of them are yours!


Image via iStock.com/filo

  • Potty Time


    Image via iStock.com/PhonlamaiPhoto

    "I was ordering food at a fast food restaurant, and my son was RIGHT next to me. I looked at the cashier for two seconds to answer a question, and when I turned around, POOF. My 3-year-old had disappeared. I started frantically running through the restaurant yelling his name like a psycho for about 15 terrifying seconds until a guy stepped out of the men's room right next to where we were standing and said, 'Are you looking for a little boy? I think he just walked into the men's room.' And out comes my son, grinning proudly, and he says, 'I went potty all by myself!' Ugggggh. It only takes a second, people. Literally one second. (Also, you're welcome to double judge me for feeding him fast food.)" 

    -- Karen Sams

  • Slippery When Wet


    Image via iStock.com/PhonlamaiPhoto

    "I was nursing my then 6-month-old at the pool with my back to the water while my mother was watching my 3-year-old in the baby pool. She asked my brother to take over for a minute. The next thing we all know, she's at the bottom of the big pool and a lifeguard is in the water. #ivelostmykid at the bottom of a pool."

    -- Blaes Schmissrauter Green

  • Disappearing Act


    Image via iStock.com/Alexander Gatsenko

    "I was large. Pregnant large and hot with sweat running into my bra hot ... you get the idea. So we went to buy some vest tops, me and my 1-year-old. We had forgotten his reins so I held onto his hood. He had a great time around the shop and finally we found what I needed. I reached up and got a few hangers and looked down to see I was only holding his coat. He'd unzipped and in pure ninja form escaped his coat. We looked ... for 10 minutes ... and that's a lifetime when your kid is lost! He'd just taken two steps forward and was in between the T-shirts on the bottom rail giggling. Wanker."

    -- Della Hyde

    More from The Stir: 7 Things That Set Off Toddler Tantrums -- Who Knew?!

  • Holiday Shopping Horror


    Image via iStock.com/Juanmonino

    "Went to Marshalls around Christmas time. My oldest was 2, almost 3 at the time. Looking at purses and her dad was right beside me. She went to him (so I thought) and I continued looking. Roughly five minutes later I found him in the random crap section with no little blonde girl. Lost it on him. Searched the store like a maniac. Crying. Told the employees. She was sitting at the front of the store crying."

    -- Cecilia Denise Ousley

  • Near Miss


    Image via iStock.com/filo

    "So, I don't have my own lost child story *yet* but I've had enough near-misses already in her two short years to know how lucky I am already. One of the worst near-misses was at our zoo. I had had her strapped to my body in a sling almost all day but she wanted to walk and people were guilting me for not letting her down. As soon as her little feet touched the ground, she tried to bolt and everyone around us stood around oblivious, rolling their eyes and texting on their phones stepping between me and her, widening the distance between us even further. I nearly plowed a group over trying to catch up to her in time, and after that I bought a harness. And I ONLY HAVE ONE CHILD, and there were two adults watching her (me and my mom)."

  • The Big Sleep


    Image via iStock.com/EarnestTse

    "I don't really care what anyone thinks about my parenting except for my husband so here it is. I lost my then 3-year-old inside my house! No we don't live like an episode of Hoarders, we just have a really big house and our furniture was arranged to accommodate our Christmas tree (it was February, I'm not going to lie, and the same 3-year-old cried every time we thought about putting it away). She fell asleep under a pillow between the couch and the wall (an approximate 8 inch by 2.5 foot space). When I say lost, I mean we couldn't find her for an hour and a half and the police, fire department, and EMS crews were called. They were literally going door to door to look for our 'missing' child. At the time it was horrifying, now it's just hilarious. Best part is that I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone! So which is worse, your crazy toddler climbing into a gorilla cage, or losing your kid in your own house and being responsible for a 30-person manhunt to find your 'missing' kid. Go ahead and laugh that awkward horrifying laughter, you know you want to!"

    -- Jami Avery-Haddock

    More from The Stir: 9 Biggest Differences Between Babies & Toddlers

  • Dish Duty


    Image via iStock.com/gilaxia

    "My kid made it through a locked door, onto the second floor porch, moved a chair out there, and was standing on tiptoe on the railing in the five minutes my husband was washing dishes. When you're a parent, the distance between you and disaster is a hair's breadth."

    -- Laura Bethard

  • Escape Artist


    Image via iStock.com/wwing

    "At church, I lost my disabled child. As in, she can't walk. She crawled away, up some stairs, and I think was hoping to get to the outdoor playground. What was I doing? Fishing a bead out of her brother's mouth so he wouldn't choke. My husband was throwing away trash. She crawled behind him in her escape."

    -- Jason Mann

  • Nursing Nightmare


    Image via iStock.com/Juan García Aunión

    "I was breastfeeding my second daughter when my first daughter, age 3, managed to get out of the front door, that I had no idea she could open. I managed to get the baby down and chase my oldest before she made it out of our front yard, only to find my neighbor already had her, and my boobs were flapping to the wind."

    -- Dotty Young

    More from The Stir: 21 Outrageous Things Your Toddler Is Thinking About You (PHOTOS)

  • Snow Problem


    Image via iStock.com/Denis Sauvageau

    "January, below zero, five kids in snow suits, our doctor in the satellite office 20 miles away. Bundled them all up at the end of the appointment, taking them out under a blanket one at a time to the prewarmed car. Nearly home when the 4-year-old asks where the baby was. Well, she was in her snowsuit at the doctor's office, tucked under the coat rack so she wouldn't get stepped on while I was taking the others out."

    -- Jenee Clark

  • Lost in the Crowd


    Image via iStock.com/VICHAILAO

    "I lost my 4-year-old in Six Flags. IN THE WATER PARK. He was standing behind me as I ducked to put a bag in the locker with the baby in my lap. He was telling me how excited he was and then I couldn't hear him. My back was turned for seconds. I turned around and there was a giant crowd directly behind me. A group of campers had come along and even though he was close enough to touch me some of them squeezed in between him and me and swept him along. But at the time I didn't know that and turned and panicked. I started screaming his name and running back and forth shaking and bouncing the poor baby as I ran. I didn't know where to go. That fountain we'd just looked at that he'd loved? The water fountain behind the sign over there? The alcove he'd laughed was a hiding spot that was across the courtyard? One of the three pools I could see? The bathroom? The changing room? My god WHERE WAS HE?! And the the most beautiful, gangly, pimply teenage boy in a Six Flags T-shirt came wading out of the crowd holding my son's hand and earned himself a quick lesson on how hard a mom can cry when you make her realize she's lucky." 

    -- Sarah Quarles

  • Birds on the Brain


    Image via iStock.com/gerisima

    "We were at a zoo and one of my 3-year-old twins asked to go see the bird show and we said no since we were going to go get lunch, but they could play in the dinosaur fossil dig. Next thing we look up and can't see her and didn't know the dig area had an opening on the other end. The little bastard walked to the bird show and sat with another family and watched the whole show after which the family deposited said child to guest relations. We were frantically running around the zoo looking for her and the little sh!t was watching the bird show."

    -- Reena Pandhi Fosse

    More from The Stir: 12 Quotes About Motherhood That Tell It Like It Is (PHOTOS)

  • Bathroom Breakout


    Image via iStock.com/Ratana21

    "That time I went to the toilet to pee, and less than 60 seconds into it my 3-year-old interrupted me to tell me that there was a stranger at our front door and that she had the baby. I raced out as fast as I could, to find a woman standing there holding my 11-month-old son. She told me he wandered out the front of our house and onto the road in front of her big SUV. He couldn't even open the door; apparently my 3-year-old had opened the front door and let him out as soon as I had left the room to go to the toilet. I couldn't believe it. So so scary. Thank god the woman saw him. And he was the youngest of five kids, so it's not like I wasn't already aware of just how quickly they can get themselves into trouble; it still caught me off guard."

    -- Melissa Rowe

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