Same sex twins, especially identical Twins, can be extremely difficult to tell apart. This can be a problem not just for friends but for family members and often parents themselves. Alison Dobbins, Twin Love Concierge’s Philadelphia & New Jersey associate, shares her story and tips on how they developed techniques to differentiate between their identical girls, now 10 yrs old.
When I was pregnant with my identical twin girls, I read this funny story about a couple who had to take their newborn twins to the police station to be finger printed. In their sleep deprived state, they mixed up their babies and weren’t sure who was who. Thankfully, one of my girls was almost a pound bigger than her sister at birth so it was very easy to tell them apart. Still, it took me a week before I felt brave enough to cut off their hospital bracelets and I still painted a toe nail with ‘their color’.
After reading that story, I decided the easiest way to tell the girls and their belongings apart would be to color code them. Baby A was assigned the colors at the beginning of the alphabet (blues, greens, pinks) and Baby B was assigned the colors at the end of the alphabet (purples, reds, yellows.)
Once they were born and Baby A became Alice and Baby B became Rita, we added the strategy that Rita would always be on the right. When they were sharing a crib or pack n’ play, Rita was on the right. When we laid them on the floor for tummy time, Rita was on the right. When they were in their highchairs, Rita was on the right. This probably cut down on the number of times I tried to change the same baby’s diaper twice.
It’s hard to resist the cuteness of dressing twins alike but we tried, when possible, to do coordinating clothes instead of identical. The same outfit in two different colors, the same dresses but different stocking colors, the same shirts but different bottoms. This helped our family and friends to easily identify them. To this day, people know that if one of them walks into a party wearing green there’s a 99.9% chance that it’s Alice.
Having girls, it was also easy to use their hair to help others tell them apart. If they were wearing the same outfit or color then I would give Alice one ponytail and Rita two ponytails. Or I would use different color headbands or hair bows. Right before Kindergarten, Alice wanted to keep her hair short while Rita loves long hair. Now, at age 9, Rita’s hair is past her waist and Alice has donated her hair three times to Locks for Love.
These strategies are also a HUGE help in photographs. While people who have their children one at a time can rely on clues like what year the photo was taken, parents of multiples have to be more creative. Candids or a professional photo session, we try to keep Rita on the right. If it’s a photo of just one of them you can usually find clues in what colors they are wearing or how their hair looks. Strategies like these can still be helpful if you have fraternal twins. Even boy/girl twins can look confusingly similar as infants if they’re in a plain onesie. We have always been able to tell our girls apart. They look identical to the rest of the world but, to us, they look nothing alike. However, telling them apart in photos years later isn’t always as easy. Their second Christmas they were wearing the exact same nightgown with uncombed hair and I’m still not completely positive who is who in certain photos.
Easily being able to tell who is who has also been an important safety measure. If I’m yelling at a child not to run into the street/touch something dangerous/etc., I need to be able to tell from the back of their head what name to shout to get their attention.
My girls have benefited from having friends who are identical twins. They can’t tell the identical twins they play with apart so they don’t get upset when people can’t tell them apart. They’re used to people having to ask “Are you Alice or Rita?” and I’ve heard them ask their twin friends the same thing. But these strategies have helped them have a sense of individuality as “identical” twins.
Author: Alison Dobbins, TLC’s Prepartum Associate, is a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia Area and the proud mother of identical twin girls. Twin pregnancy took Alison by surprise and she was thrilled to find the support of her local Mothers of Multiples club. She credits the advice and example of the experienced members for her own ability to handle the challenges of twin motherhood – and the ability to enjoy the awesomeness that is being a twin mom! As her twins got older, Alison realized how much she enjoyed helping new moms of multiples in their own journeys. She felt lucky to be able to provide the same level of advice and support she had been so grateful to receive. No one understands quite like another mom of multiples! She’s held several leadership positions in her local Mothers of Multiples group and is looking forward to helping moms of multiples throughout the tri-state area. You can reach Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our Philadelphia & New Jersey area services.
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