As parents of identical twins ourselves, one of the most daunting and difficult things in those early months was telling the boys apart. We’d have moments during the night where one of us would put both boys into their separate cots but managed to put them in their wrong beds! This would result in the other one of us getting up to tend to the boys later in the night and simply confused to who was who. It was only once it become light in the morning that we’d realise we’d stuffed up! We decided to create this post with a list of tips on how parents tell twin babies apart.
We ended up having a few different strategies of being able to tell our twins apart. Some of these we used while others we didn’t have the need but wanted to share them regardless. We hope this article on ways that parents tell their twins apart is useful for you.
Also, congratulations if you’re reading this as expecting twin parents to be! Having twins can be a handful but also the most amazing time of your life.
1. Colour Coordinating
An easy way to tell your twins apart is by dressing them in different coloured clothes. We made the mistake of dressing our identical twin boys in the same coloured outfits which would often lead to confusion to who is who.
Most styles will come with different colours which is handy if you’re keen to dress your twins in the same style but keen to mix it up with different colours.
2. Look for Natural Signs
While you may have identical twins that look identical, there will always be subtle differences between them thanks to DNA mutations. During the pregnancy, once the fertilised egg splits into two, this is when identical twins are formed. It’s from this point that very minor differences in the twins can develop which is otherwise known as DNA mutations. These can be minor things like birth marks which we relied on a bit in the early days.
Other things you can look for might include slightly different weight or difference in head shape. We were quite lucky where one of our boys was around 100 grams heavier than the other twin while also having a slightly different head shape to the other. This helped with telling the difference between the two.
Our hospital staff was kind enough to paint one of our boy’s toenails while we were in hospital. We didn’t even think to do this but later found it a huge godsend in working out the difference between the two in the early days when we were both unsure to who was who. By the time we got home and the toenail paint eventually wore off, we both (ok maybe my wife more than me!) had a good grip on who was who and were able to tell the difference.
4. Hospitals Putting Temporary Tattoo Dot on Inside of Big Toe
Although we didn’t have this done to our boys, we’ve heard of parents having the hospital put a temporary tattoo dot on the inside of one of their twins big toes to help with identifying who is who. The tattoo lasts around 6-12 months so isn’t permanent fortunately!
5. DNA Test
While this one won’t help you in telling the difference of your twins in the early days, getting a DNA test to check whether our twins are identical is a good way of finding out whether they will only retain their identical looks or potentially begin to look different as time goes on.
6. Hospital Bands
Once your little twins are born, the hospital staff will fix hospital bands onto either their wrist or ankle. Another option of being able to work out the difference between your twins is keeping the hospital band on for a few weeks once you get home until you’re comfortable in telling the difference. We prefer the toenail difference ourselves as it doesn’t get in the way.
This is another one that won’t be obvious in the first few months but over time, we can tell the difference between our twins based on personality. One of our boys is quite the daredevil while our other twin tries to keep up but is a lot more cautious. For example, one twin will climb objects and then think about the consequences later. Our other twin will take his time and consider the risks as he does it.
Another example of personality difference between our twins is that one loves to smile while the other is a bit more reserved. He will literally smile at anything. It’s hilarious! But also makes a quick way to tell the difference between the two. Over time, you’ll find subtle personality differences in your twins to help with telling the difference between the two.
8. Left or Right Handed?
Another one for when your twins get older but did you know that some identical twins can have different dominant hands? For example, you might have two identical girl twins with one using their left hand as their dominant hand while the other uses their right hand as their dominant hand. We’ve written about why some identical twins use their left and right hands in the past
9. Look Under the Diaper
If you don’t have identical twins then you’re in luck! Unfortunately this didn’t apply for us due to having identical boys but a cheeky way of being able to tell the difference between your different sex twins is a quick look under the diaper to check who is who.
If you have identical twins and looking for ways to tell the difference, we sometimes dress our boys with accessories which help us tell the difference. This might be slightly different styled shoes, different coloured hats, bracelets and other accessories which make telling the difference between identical twins easy.
We hope you found this article interesting on how twin parents tell the difference between their twins. You may also be interested in some other topics we’ve written about twins including at what age twins recognise one another, what you call twins that don’t look alike and whether twins in fact share a telepathic relationship or not.
Thanks for reading!
My name’s Alex and I’m a husband, dad to beautiful identical twin boys, cyclist, photographer and connoisseur of great coffee!
Help I’m Having Twins has been created for me to share what I found useful as a new parent and dad to twins.