Three-year-old Mikaeel Kular, whose body was found after he went missing from his Edinburgh home, was put into foster care, it has been claimed.
His mother, Rosadeep Kular, appeared at court on Monday charged with his murder.
The youngster, who was found more than 30 miles away from his home on Friday night, is said to have been put into foster care because of concerns for his welfare.
Ziggy Ford and her husband cared for the boy, one of five children, who it is claimed was returned to his mother after social workers thought she could cope.
A friend of the 49-year-old told The Sun: “They took him on a short-term basis. They loved him like he was their own son.”
Social workers from Fife Council were said to be in regular contact with Kular, 31, and her five children when they lived in Kirkcaldy before moving to Edinburgh 18 months ago.
Kular, who is thought to be on suicide watch, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday charged with murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
She was remanded in custody at Cornton Vale Prison in Stirlingshire to appear at court in another private hearing on January 28.
Mikaeel was reported missing last Thursday and was said to have been last seen when he was put to bed at 9pm on Wednesday night. His disappearance prompted a major search, with hundreds of people trying to find him, until his body was discovered in woods behind the former family home just before midnight on Friday. It has not been confirmed how long he had been there.
A spokesman for Fife council said they were unable to provide information about the case because of the ongoing police investigation.