When you find out you’re having identical twins, you may start to worry that you won’t be able to tell them apart. Identical twins are the same gender and share the same DNA. This is enough to make you fear mixing up your children.
Can parents tell identical twins apart? Most parents can tell their identical twins apart at some point, but it might not be that easy when they are newborns. In fact, many parents find creative ways, like painting a toenail or using ID anklets, to know which twin is which so they don’t mix them up early in life.
With identical twins, the infant stage can be the absolute hardest when it comes to identifying them.
Fortunately, you will likely get better at telling your twins apart as time goes by and you get to know them better. It’s important to notice their differences as you see them.
How Parents Tell Twins Apart
Twin parents use creative techniques and keen observation skills to tell their identical twins apart.
1. Slight Differences in Physical Features
Identical twins often have slight differences in their physical features. You just have to pay very close attention to see them.
One twin’s head might be rounder while the other twin’s head is more oval. Ears and eyes can be shaped differently, and twins may also have different skin tones, especially at birth.
2. Size Differences
Identical twins may have the same genes, but there are other factors that can impact their sizes.
One twin may be substantially larger at birth than the other due to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome or growth restriction. This size difference could carry into childhood or resolve itself.
3. Birthmarks, Moles & Freckles
Don’t panic if your identical twins aren’t born with birthmarks or distinguishing moles at birth. They can develop or become more prominent over time. They can also develop in different places.
One identical twin may have a birthmark on her leg while the other has it on her arm. Not all the freckles your identical twins will have are the same either, and they can have unique moles on different parts of their bodies. Once you find them, you can tell your twins apart fairly easily.
Identical twins can have different personalities. They are two different people, despite their similar DNA. As your children start to develop and show their personalities, that will clue you in as to which one is which.
5. Bracelets or Painting Toenails
When we brought home our identical twins, we painted their toenails different colors every day. One twin wore blue and the other purple. This helped us identify them quickly. Just remember to reapply the polish often.
Bracelets or anklets are another easy way to keep track of who is who. Just be sure that they are designed for newborns and are 100% safe before use.
6. Assigned Colors
You don’t have to dress your twins the same. In the case of identical twins, it’s actually very wise to dress them differently and assign them their own clothing color. This is a fast way to glance and know who you are looking at in a second.
7. Voice and Speech Patterns
The cries of your twins will very much sound the same when they are infants. However, you may be able to tell a difference in their voices as they start to babble and speak. These differences tend to become more pronounced over time.
8. Belly Buttons
Each twin has its own umbilical cord, and that makes their belly buttons unique. Figure out the differences in your babies’ belly buttons as soon as the umbilical stump falls off for easy identification.
9. Sometimes Parents Just Know
There are some parents who can tell their identical twin apart instinctively. Though this may be more difficult when they are infants, it gets much easier as they age.
How To Tell Twins Apart at Birth
Fortunately, the nurses will put hospital bracelets on your babies when they are born labeling them Baby A and Baby B. If you’ve already chosen names, then their names will be included as well.
The bracelets will stay on during the entire hospital stay, and you can ask them not to cut them off when you go home.
What if I Mix Up My Twins?
It is possible to mix up your identical twins, but it’s not likely. Once you are ready to take the hospital bracelets off, make sure to have a method for knowing which child is which.
If you do mix your twins up, work with your partner to try to figure it out. Identical twins do have different fingerprints, but they probably won’t have them on file that early in life as a reference.
Bracelets To Tell Twins Apart
There are some great products made to help you tell your twins apart easily.
Organic Cotton Twin ID Anklet
These precious anklets are made with organic cotton that won’t agitate your twins’ skin. Each bracelet has a square bead with your child’s first initial on it.
If you gave your twins names that start with the same letter, you will need to figure out what you want on the bead to tell them apart.
Beaded Newborn Twin ID Bracelets
If you want a bracelet that shows the full first name of your twins, these beaded bracelets are a great option. They are stretchy and smooth and can be worn on the arm or ankle.
Sterling Silver ID Bracelet
Though your twins may need to be a bit older for these to fit, sterling silver ID bracelets are a fashionable way to tell your twins apart. Have the bracelets engraved with the name of each twin, and you’ll have an easy way to tell them apart.
When Do Identical Twins Start Looking Alike?
Most identical twins are born looking alike, and that’s what makes the baby phase even more difficult. Stumbling through nighttime feedings and changings exhausted and in the dark can leave you unable to know which baby you even interacted with at night.
Identical twins will often stay very similar in appearance, but they may actually be easier to tell apart as they get older.
When Does Personality Develop?
Babies are precious but don’t always have a lot of personality in the very early days. Toward the one-year mark, you may notice that your twins are developing their own personalities. This will make telling them apart easier.
Words of Encouragement
There are ways to tell your twins apart, no matter how identical they are. Don’t panic if it’s difficult in the beginning.
You definitely aren’t alone in your confusion, and one day soon, you’ll look back on those early days and wonder why you ever had a hard time telling them apart!
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.