Getting identical twins or triplets mixed up

how to tell ID twins apart

Possibly every parents worse fear once they find out their multiples are identical is “how will I tell them apart?”.   Don’t panic, at some stage it will happen and you will get them mixed up. And in most cases its not the end of the world.   Usually its just because you weren’t paying full attention, you are tired, the lighting is poor or you just had a fleeting glance of them from across the room.   I can assure you, if it was a serious matter, such as undergoing surgery, you will know who is who. 

Fun Twinfo tip:  Take a close up photo of their belly buttons and pop it in their baby book.  That way you will have photo evidence of who is who.  Belly buttons are a great way of telling identical twins and triplets apart. However, while this is fascinating, it is not particularly handy when trying to tell which child is standing on the top of the slide from across the park!!!

Read our blog here: Fingerprints in identical twins or triplets

There are lots of ways you can prevent getting identical twins mixed up, but that is a whole different blog in itself.  In the meantime, Twinfo has some tips to what to do when and if you (or someone else) do get them mixed up!

getting identical twins mixed up triplets

Sleep deprivation is real!

Don’t feel embarrassed if your partner arrives home after you have had a crazy day and tells you that you have them in the wrong beds, or in the wrong ‘colours’.  Life happens.  Laugh it off as no doubt the situation will be reversed at some stage.  Just don’t bring it up next time you and your partner have an argument!!!

Don’t get mad if someone mixes them up          

I get it, you have your parent goggles on, and to you they look TOTALLY different.  But trust me, its easy for strangers, Great Aunt Betty or even Uncle John who only sees them once a month, to get them mixed up.  If someone does get them mixed up, just politely correct them and more on.  There is no need to make a big fuss about it.  It just happens.

Even if it is your mother who always gets it wrong, its important not to bear a grudge about it.  Just make a point of clearly identifying them to her when she arrives, and use their name when talking to or about them to help her. 

getting identical triplets mixed up

A quick glance can make things hard

Maybe they do have slightly different facial features, but when one barrels by an open door at top speed while chasing the cat, it can be hard to tell who it was.   Go for the safe “What are you doing to that poor cat”, and they will never know you couldn’t tell who it was!


If all else fails, just call each of their names until someone answers!!! This is particularly true for those of you have identical triplets. You will get it right eventually.   

telling ID triplets apart

Its often easier to tell identical multiples apart when they are together

Often its easy to tell your identical twins or triplets apart when they are together. But when they are apart, then it’s a whole different ball game!!!  You may struggle at a glance to see who is who.  That doesn’t make you a bad parent.   So don’t feel bad!

No response is usually a good indication you have it wrong!

If they don’t seem to be listening or responding to you when you tell them to get off the couch………chances are you are using the wrong name!!!  Sometimes their differences are quite subtle, and it is easy to get them mixed up.  If you do get them mixed up, and they call you out on it, just admit to it, apologise, and move on.

how to prevent getting-identical-twins-mixed-up

Photos can make it very hard to tell who is who

Even if you think you know exactly who is who, if you are away from them for a couple of days and your partner sends you a photo, you will have a hard time telling who is who.   Their mood, their attitude and their clothing on that particular day always helps.  So if you are away for a few days, you will more than likely struggle to identify them.

Important people getting identical twins mixed up

If it is important for people to learn who is who, for example family, close friends or carers, then you will need to make a concerted effort to explain their subtle differences.  If they do get it wrong, just politely correct them as its important they know that they got it wrong.  

mixing up ID twins

Fraternal twins or triplets

Even most parents of fraternal twins or triplets are guilty of getting them mixed up.  As a parent of fraternal twins (and girl/boy ones at that!!!) I personally feel you are totally justified if you get your identical twins or triplets mixed up every once in a while. I have some photos of when they were born that I have no idea who is who!

Don’t beat yourself up if YOU are the one getting identical twins mixed up.

On a final note, at some stage you may wonder if you have had them mixed up since birth!   What if you never realised that you had mixed them up??  Rest assured, it is highly unlikely.  You know your babies better than anyone else.  And the fact that you are even having that conversation means you are a great parent who cares about their kids!!  


Twinfo is Australia’s largest, most supportive, online community for parents of twins and triplets. Twinfo offers advice, products and services that make raising your babies easier, freeing you up to enjoy all the precious moments.

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