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I think all babies look alike, even when they are not identical. I need to come up with a strategy over the next few months.

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19  
The evil one will have a goatee and sinister laugh –  dave May 19 '11 at 3:56
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@dave No, the evil one is the one that describes his brother that way. :) –  Iterator Oct 22 '11 at 12:52
    
Until you can tell the difference, does it really matter? –  tomjedrz Oct 22 '11 at 21:22
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Invest in tattoos –  DA01 Oct 24 '11 at 14:33

4 Answers 4

up vote 30 down vote accepted

My wife and I faced this very issue with our twin boys, now four years old. When we first brought them home from the hospital, we kept the little wristbands on them for the first few weeks, until they started to outgrow them. Then, we painted their big toe a different color so that we had a foolproof way of keeping track -- the nail polish wouldn't come off easily, and even when it did start to come off, it would generally leave traces of the color for a while. After a few months we managed to identify tiny differences (small moles, different patterns to the way their hair swirled, etc.) that we could use, and once we were confident that the differences were there to stay, we stopped painting their nails.

I studied philosophy in college and my wife is a linguist, so besides being two people from professions that should never be permitted to raise identical twins (physicists being another group that should also be so banned, since their textbooks are similarly filled with "thought experiments" that would more aptly be characterized as "twin torture") we were also quite obsessed with the existential implications of how names work, and what happens if they get mixed up.

If you do go with the nail polish approach I'd definitely make sure to get a brand that's non-toxic and to not over-do it because little growing nails do need to breathe -- you might want to switch up which nail you paint each time. Also -- and this is very, very important -- you need to reach an agreement with your partner that neither of you will ever, ever, EVER "play a joke" on the other and switch them on purpose. :)

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We brought nail polish in case our twins turned out to be identical. It turned out we didn't need it (they looked very different, obviously fraternal), but I'm glad it was there. We also tended to dress them in different colors - both girls, I. was dressed in yellow and green, and L was dressed in purple and blue. This helped our relatives tremendously. –  Ethel Evans May 25 '11 at 19:08
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I guess you mean psychologists instead of physicists. Physics involves very little twins, where psychology loves them. –  Paul de Vrieze Oct 30 '11 at 19:46
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Oh no, he means physicists. We like putting one twin on a rocket ship and leaving the other one behind. Then we get the one on the rocket ship back to earth and we obsess for decades about which one should be older. It sounds odd when you put it like that, but trust me there is method to the madness ;) –  drxzcl Nov 11 '11 at 0:36

When the twins are first born and their footprints are made, these are one of your best guarantees of uniqueness. These will also be a treasure for your children, so keep these and perhaps make new ones over time. It takes a moment and it's much easier than stressing over how they are dressed or otherwise decorated.

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To add to the above comments use clothing colors and patterns. The following list developed over time, often based on what colors the our boys were drawn to at a young age. Since about 3 months old Twin B always reaches towards the yellow toys and clothing.

In our house it is an unwritten rule that:

Twin A always wears blues, greens, browns, solid colors, and/or anything with puppies, trucks, or superman on it

Twin B always wears yellows, reds, oranges, stripes, and/or anything with monkeys, sports equipment, or batman on it.

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We follow a similar rule, although we don't prevent our boys from picking the "wrong" colors if that's what they pick out to wear... which results in those being pretty confusing days for us and their teachers. :) –  Bill Clark May 25 '11 at 17:52
    
Even now when they are only a year it gets confusing when someone puts that SuperMan pjs on the wrong boy. :) –  Amy Patterson May 25 '11 at 18:07

Even identical twins aren't exact copies of each other. There ARE differences!

Look for these differences, however small, and remember that Bob is the one with the narrower toenail, and Ben was born with longer hair. Alice has a dimple on the left butt cheek, Denise has one on the right shoulder.

If all else fails, you can still mark the twins as @Bill explains.

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While that is true, it takes a while to learn to tell the differences. Until then, the dab of nail polish is a great idea. –  cabbey May 20 '11 at 7:48

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