Telling identical twins apart

There’s no feeling like when a friend or relative sees your baby and bursts into a huge smile. They come running to the two of you and grab your baby in their arms; grinning from ear to ear, they’ll hold your baby up like they’re the most beautiful baby in the world – and then, right when things couldn’t get more perfect, they’ll call your baby by the wrong name.

People mean well. They really do. When people see your twins, they’re going to shower them with gifts and call them all sorts of lovable names. But people are also going to mix things up a lot, and parents of twins can tell you that people will mix up the twins – a lot.

Of course, it’s not your responsibility to teach everyone how to tell your twins apart. But you might want to think of your own ways to quickly identify each baby, both in pictures and in person. Here are some ideas from us and other parents of multiples.

Memorize the birthmarks

Twins might share the same DNA, but they almost certainly don’t share the same moles, freckles, or birthmarks. It can be helpful to take pictures of each child’s birthmarks so that if you do get to the point where you need to rely on birthmarks to tell them apart, you’ll be able to.

Paint one twin’s nail with nail polish

Many parents recommend painting one of the twins’ toenails or fingernails with nail polish. Or you could paint a nail on each of your multiples, but with different colors. It doesn’t have to be French manicure-level; just accurate enough so that you can see the colors pretty quickly.

Dress them in different colors

You probably already know about this one, but it’s nearly foolproof. If one baby is always wearing a certain color, you’ll always know who’s who. There are potential downfalls of course, like if one baby starts to hate their color or if you make an accidental switch one morning, but it will be super helpful for identification in photographs. Which leads us to our next point.

Label photographs early

A lot of the characteristics that help you tell the twins apart don’t translate well to photographs; the mole that one of them has on their arm, for example, or their difference in weight. If you have hard copies of photographs, you might want to label the backs of them so that you can quickly identify one twin from the other. And for digital photos, you can either download an app or rename the pictures with a description. Right now you might have no problem figuring out who’s who, but think of labeling the pictures as a favor for your future self.

Some parents claim that they had an internal sense of which twin was which, even before the two took their first breath of air. Other parents admit to having slip-ups that make them question if they didn’t permanently switch the two. But at the end of the day, a little mix up here and there never hurt any baby. Your multiples won’t take it personally for at least another couple of years or so, and by then you’ll have things down pat. Your friends and relatives on the other hand, well, they’ll take a little longer.

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