How to Tell a Set of Identical Twins Apart

Three Methods:Looking at Physical CharacteristicsObserving Other DifferencesTelling Twins Apart as Babies

Identical twins are twins who developed from the same fertilized egg, making them look remarkably similar. It can be very difficult to tell identical twins apart. By paying attention to differences in appearance and personality, however, you should be able to figure it out. If you're a parent of twin babies, there are some tricks you can use to tell one baby from the other.

Method 1
Looking at Physical Characteristics

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    Look at the wardrobe. While identical twins look alike, they often have different tastes. This can result in a different wardrobe. Consider wardrobe options when trying to identify twins.
    • Pay attention to color. Twins do not always like the same colors. Rose may love the color yellow, while Grace finds it appalling. Therefore, if you see a twin in a yellow shirt, you can probably assume it's Rose.[1]
    • Twins may also dress differently. One twin may enjoy dressing up, while another prefers slightly more casual attire.
    • One twin may also prefer a certain style of clothing. One twin may be known for a fondness of sundresses or cardigans, for example, while another can usually be seen in a particular style of jeans.
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    Watch for small physical differences. Identical twins are never completely identical. There are always small physical differences that you can use to tell one twin from another. Look for things like birthmarks, freckles, moles, and other distinguishing features. These can be used to tell twins apart.[2]
    • If you're just meeting a set of twins, ask a mutual friend about physical differences. Minor differences are hard to notice at first. Someone who's known the twins for awhile may be aware of a birthmark, mole, or freckle you can use to distinguish between them.
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    Learn to associate a twin's name with a certain characteristic. If you've found any distinguishing characteristics between twins, try to associate these differences with a twin's name. This can help you quickly tell the twins apart without having to scramble to think.[3]
    • One twin may have curly hair, for example, while the other has straight hair. Try to repeat to yourself, "Addison, curly, Molly, straight, Addison, curly, Molly straight." This will help solidify the connection. The next time you see one of the twins, you'll be able to quickly differentiate based on hair type.
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    Pay attention to slight differences in style. Beyond wardrobe, there may be other slight differences in style you can use to tell twins apart. Things like makeup, jewelry, and accessories are helpful tools.
    • One twin may be known for having a fondness for a certain type of accessory. For example, one twin may have a fondness for hats. A twin may also like a certain brand of clothing. For example, a twin may be known to shop at Abercrombie and Finch a lot.
    • If the twins in question wear makeup, they may wear slightly different shades. One twin's makeup may usually be more dramatic, while another's is more toned down. One twin may prefer pink lipstick, while the other prefers red.

Method 2
Observing Other Differences

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    Assess personality. Identical twins often have different personalities. If you've known a pair of twins for awhile, you may be able to tell them apart based on personality. For example, Alice may be very shy and withdrawn, while Sophie is a social butterfly. If you see one of the twins out walking, and she smiles and yells, "Hi!", you're likely dealing with Sophie.
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    Pay attention to speaking style. Twins may have a different speaking style. You can use this as a means to identify twins. Returning to the above example, as Sophie is more social, she may use common slang and colloquial terms in conversation. As Alice is more withdrawn, and spends a lot of time at home, she may have not picked up on as much slang. She may be unlikely to use certain terms and phrases in conversation, sticking to more formal sentences.
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    Look at habits and mannerisms. Twins may also have slightly different mannerisms and habits, which you may pick up on if you've spent a lot of time with the twins. One twin may have a habit of twirling his hair, for example, while another may bite his fingernails. One twin may gesticulate more when he or she talks, while another may be more reserved in conversation.
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    Ask politely when in doubt. It's okay to ask politely. While twins may sometimes get slightly annoyed, many identical twins understand others have trouble differentiating between them. If you're really in doubt, politely say something like, "I'm sorry, but are you Mason or Todd?" Thank the twin for answering, and let him or her know you'll try to do better in the future.[4]

Method 3
Telling Twins Apart as Babies

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    Color coordinate your twins. If you're a parent of twin babies, it can get hard to tell your twins apart. It may be a good idea to color coordinate. Always dress twins in certain colors. For example, Maria is always dressed in yellow, red, or green. Lucy is always dressed in purple, pink, or blue.[5]
    • You can also try picking different designs. Maria is usually in stripes, while Lucy is in polka dots.
    • It's a good idea to let daycare workers and babysitters know how your twins are color coordinated. If one twin is on a certain medication, it's important that a caretaker know which twin is which.
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    Paint a single toenail of one twin. Many parents find it helpful to paint a single toenail on one twin. This way, you'll know which twin is which. If you get confused, check the toes. You'll know you're changing Zachary's diaper if a single toenail is painted green.[6]
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    Use a "scrunchie" or bracelet. You can purchase an elastic scrunchie or some type of small bracelet. Before leaving the hospital, put the scrunchie around one baby's wrist or ankle. This can help you remember which baby is which throughout the day.[7]
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    Get to know each baby's personality. After awhile, you probably will not need physical reminders to tell your twins apart. As babies get older, they begin to develop distinct personalities. Zack may be more quiet, and less likely to cry at night, while Jake tends to be fussier and pickier. As your twins personalities emerge, you'll get to know them as individuals. This will make it easier to differentiate between them.[8]

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Categories: Development Stages | Siblings