I've read that babies generally recognize and respond to their own name at around 5 months of age. How is this different for twins (particularly identical)? Being as they often (almost always!) hear their names mentioned together, when can they recognize which is their own name and which is their twin's...? Will they respond to both names? If so, for how long?

(My twins are nearly a year old, and I still can't tell if they know their own names or just respond to both. I was curious if there is any official data available.)

  • Side note, 'around 5 months of age' is a reeeeeally variable timeframe. I'd be concerned by a year, perhaps, but not before then. My pediatrician didn't worry at 6 months, but at 9 months did expect both of my children to know their own name and respond to it. I recall at 6 month checkup, being asked to pick one nickname and stick to it, rather than using lots of variants at random, to help my first child learn.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 16:38
  • @Joe - understood. I just wondered if the general timeframe was later. Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 20:22
  • Total side note, but I've always wondered how parents of twins don't get confused by who is who. I'm an airhead, so unless I gave them wrist band (which seems rather demeaning), I'd forget the proper identities. I lucked out in that regard by not having twins, but always something that made me wonder. :) Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 7:44
  • @JeremyMiller - when I first found out I was having identical twins I freaked out a bit ;) We ended up keeping their hospital bracelets (anklets really) on for the first few weeks, plus followed the nailpolish idea in this post: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/1533/… . After about 3-4 weeks from them coming home from the hospital, I was pretty confident about being able to tell them apart, and now I can hardly understand how it's possible for people to mix them up :) They just seem so different to me. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 13:26
  • (We do have cute little different-colored bracelets on them though for everyone else - babysitters, family members, etc - and a few of them have thanked me for it :) ) Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


TL;DR: No different from single children.

There ought to be ample opportunity to address twins individually. They don't (always) do their misdeeds in sync - sometimes only one of them does it, or at least one does it first and the other one follows. Also when you're feeding them, or changing them, or doing any number of similar things - you will inevitably deal with just one of them at a given instant.

These instants are certainly enough for each of them to hear their own name without the other one, so I am sure that the self-identification works just as well with twins, if not even better.

Sidenote: I'm a twin myself, and obviously I don't have any accurate recollection of my earliest childhood. I know my own name but I still pay attention when somebody addresses my clone. It might be a habit borne from the fact that often people mixed us up.

  • I'm not (part of a) a twin. My name can be pronounced in different ways: French (which it should be), English and several other options and spellings. I live in a different part of the country, where the French option is not the most common. The result: my name is mispronounced, misspelled, mispronounced after it's misspelled and reread. And if I correct that it's mispronounced. My father, grandfather (mother's side) and several other people regularly used a similar sounding but different name for me, and some people use a name that is close to an anagram. I listen to all these names.
    – SPRBRN
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 14:54
  • I wonder if this is true. There must be some delay (longer than if they weren't twins). There are just so much fewer opportunities to address them separately than for a singleton... There definitely are times, but not nearly as often. (Even if I address one when they're both in front of me - how would they know which one I was addressing? It would have to be from individual one-on-one time, and considering that they have a lot less of that than normal parent-child interaction, there must be some sort of delay...) Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 20:20
  • I would argue that name recognition may come even sooner for twins than for singletons precisely because there's another one around, and there's a conspicuous pattern about when their/mine/our name(s) get mentioned. Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 20:53
  • Don't forget, a favorite game for twins is to make use of the confusion. I don't know how much that would apply at 1 year old, but it's possible this is just a pair of strong-willed babies testing their limits.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 3:13
  • 2
    @Joe I can see strong-willed, but "testing their limits" at less than 6 months of age? "Calculating" is just not a term I can see applied to any child that young, twins or not. ;) Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 7:47

I dont know from which month it might have started, but my twins who are aged 2 know their names which sounds very similar. I believe they started to respond to names correctly sometime in last 6 months

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