Officers were called to Pizza Hut at the Central Retail Park in Falkirk after the toddler was shaken and dragged out of the restaurant by the woman at around 3pm on Friday.
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Police said they were “extremely concerned” about the welfare of the girl - said to be around two years old.
The toddler, who was attached to reins and pushing a toy pram, was at the restaurant with the woman and a man thought to be her father.
The girl appeared to be upset and was dragged by the reins towards the exit by the woman. She also picked her up and shook her before setting her down and dragging her again by the reins out of the restaurant.
They left in the direction of Grahams Road but were last seen at the bus stop opposite Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
The woman is described as white and in her thirties with a heavy build and red hair. She was wearing a dark jacket and blue jeans.
The man accompanying them is described as white and also in his thirties. He is around 5ft 9in with a slim build and short dark hair. He was wearing a white t-shirt and dark tracksuit bottoms.
Sgt David Ferguson said: “This was very distressing incident, which was very upsetting for members of the public to witness.
“We are extremely concerned about the welfare of the young girl who was assaulted and we wish to trace her as a matter of urgency. We are working with partners to establish her identity.
“Anyone who witnessed the incident, or recognises the family’s description, is asked to come forward immediately.”