FAQ After they are born
Dressing Your Twins
When it comes to dressing the twins, the question of whether they’ll be identically attired is a sticky one. As soon as people find out that you’re having twins – particularly if you learn the gender of the babies before they’re born – you’ll likely be deluged with identical or coordinating outfits. Once they’re home, you’ll get two of everything.
And, I must admit it, right up front, I find the site of two babies in the same clothing precious, though experts often advise that matching ensembles should be few and far between, particularly when the twins get older and are able to speak.
For me, the issue of dressing my fraternal, boy/girl twins wasn’t difficult. However for people with identical or same-sex fraternal twins, dressing them in identical clothes can be cute, but confusing to others who have trouble telling them apart. It also drives home the fact that they’re twins.
The NOMOTC web site recommends that parents-to-be select different colored clothing for the babies in an attempt to make things easier for the parents in those crazy early days. “This helps in identifying each at a glance,” the group wrote.
That’s very true. When you’re in the throes of a 3 a.m. feeding for two, it’s helpful to know, just by the color-coding, who is who. Once, when I was groggy from sleep deprivation in a room lit only by a weak nightlight, I picked up one of the newborn twins to change the child’s diaper. I thought I had Jonah in my arms. Then I opened the diaper and was taken aback when I didn’t see a penis. Perhaps I was hallucinating? Then I put my face in the baby’s and realized it was Abbey. I’d grabbed the wrong kid.
The consensus of twins’ parents seems to be that dressing the kids alike some times is okay, but not constantly, so you can avoid having people simply perceive the children as part of a unit instead of individuals.
In the book Mothering Twins, five moms of twins addressed this issue and said that they used matching clothes sparingly. “When our twins were infants, we dressed them alike or in complementary outfits at least some of the time,” the moms wrote. “It was fun; it drew positive attention to us, which we badly needed at the time . . . However, as the identical twins got older, it became more important for people to tell them apart.”
While they endorsed the idea of picking an assigned color for each child’s clothing, Patricia Maxwell Malmstrom and Janet Poland advised caution when dressing the children in similar outfits. “When you are tempted to dress them alike, and everyone is at least some of the time, think about the impact,” they wrote in their book The Art of Parenting Twins. “Can you tell them apart? Can you expect others to? . . . [F]or day-to-day attire, let each baby have his or her own wardrobe.”
Nancy and Janna Sipes, identical twins who wrote about their relationship in their memoir Dancing Naked in Front of the Fridge, said that they actually enjoy dressing alike, even when they had the opportunity to choose different clothing. But it’s up to the parents, they said, to make sure that this doesn’t happen all the time. “The dilemma [of dressing twins alike] is magnified from parental attempts to nurture – and perhaps show off – the specialness of the twins, while at the same time facing the challenge of fostering individuality in the twins,” the Sipes sisters wrote. “Individuality often comes out the loser, as dressing alike reinforces the world’s view that twins are like one person.”
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