You'd be hard-pressed to find twin parents who think naming two kids at the same time is easier than naming just one. Perhaps more considerations are in order, because, while they do share a womb at the same time, there's something to be said for identifying each child as their own person, and it all starts simply with their given name.
Dara Lovitz, mother of twins and author of "Twinsight: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins," offers advice stemming from dozens of interviews conducted with adult twins. "Generally speaking, the twins I interviewed did not like being lumped into one category, such as being referred to by friends and family as 'the twins' or 'The Miller Twins.'"
Lovitz instead encourages individuality. "Don’t choose your twins’ names using rhyme, like Will and Jill; this reinforces the notion that they are each part of a set as opposed to two separate individuals."
I'm a few days from delivering identical twin babies myself — we don't know yet if it's girls or boys — and my husband and I are still wavering on a final decision. While we know we'll be honoring our mothers with girls and grandfathers and godfathers with boys, it's also important to us that each name captures that sense of individuality while offering a nod to the ones we love.
We knew it would be crucial to give each name a bit of a spin as well, so Lilianna for Lily, Luca for Lucena and Philippe for Phillip. We loved the idea of modernizing each name, while also paying homage to our Latin heritage. A middle name we're tossing around is Catarina, for instance, a hat tip to where my mom was born, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
TODAY Parents connected with twin parents for tips and pitfalls to avoid when naming two. From logistical considerations that involve registering kids with the same birthday with government agencies to other more nuanced approaches that'll save you face when they enter kindergarten, here's some advice you may want to heed as you prepare to welcome your bundles.
What to 'initially' consider
You'll want to acknowledge every family member's initials as a whole. "We liked the sound of alliteration for names, so we focused our search on girls names beginning with A, but then identified middle names with different first letters, so their initials don't exactly match," explains Jennifer Teykaerts, mother to 17-month-old fraternal twin girls Alice and Audrey from Sacramento, California.
Whether you're having multiples or singletons, you'll also want to verify that initials don't spell naughty words, too. This could really put a damper on future L.L. Bean monogrammed beach towels!
Play 'The Name Game'
Picking out names can be child's play — no, seriously, we encourage it.
"We wanted to be sure there weren’t any bad rhyming words with the name," Laura Fosselman, mother of twins named Benjamin and Olivia explains, so she and her husband sang 'The Name Game' song to be sure! [You know; Gary, Gary, bo-bary...]
Swipe right for your perfect match
If you and your partner are having a rough go at choosing a name, do what Carla Vassilos and her husband did: swipe left on options that were less than desirable.
"We used an app called 'Kinder' where both partners can swipe away at names you like and dislike," she said. If you and your partner both swipe 'yes' on a name, the app lets you know you have a contender.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork
"I have read that some twin parents have difficulty with insurance companies when their twin's names begin with the same first letter, so there's a practical reason not to go this route," adds Vassilos whose six-week-old boys are named Cooper and Elliott.
Consider also if future accounts might easily get mixed up by both children having the same first initial. "Things like email accounts, user names, and patient records can be especially confusing since they share the same birth date," adds Taryn Solie, mom to five-year-old twin boys from Renton, Washington.
Say it louder
Teykaerts offers another practical, yet effective trick. "We practiced yelling each name separately and yelling both names together, this was weird-sounding but actually a really useful tip from another parent."
You'll want to test drive this before you find yourself in the playground at age two fumbling over your own tongue as you try to avert a jungle gym disaster.
Super long names? Make sure you have sound nicknames as a backup.
Classy ways to avoid matchy-matchy names
We love Lauren Strait's methodology to avoid rhyming schemes. “We wanted the names to have a ring to them, but instead of starting the same, they end the same,” the mother to 11-year-old identical twin boys Owen and Landen explains.
Another tactic? Keep the same number of syllables or the same number of letters. Consider also making their middle names the same if you're really itching for a bit of continuity.
Where to match instead
Solie also made a practical choice to help avoid jealousy and comparison down the line.
“Consider whether one twin has an easier, or harder, name to pronounce or spell than the other,” she advises. Think about accent marks and name popularity as well to avoid any “no one ever gets his name wrong” clashes.
Be creative — to an extent!
There can be a fine line between choosing a run-of-the-mill name versus an off-the-wall moniker. For Lindsey Ison, mom to one-year-old twins River and Freya it was important that each name pass two tests.
"The names we chose couldn't have been in the top 100 names in the social security registry in the last 10 years," she reasoned. It also needed to sound distinctive for their self-imposed "Nobel test." "We tried saying ' The Nobel Prize in physics is awarded to Dr. ____' to see if it sounded plausible. We like what we ended up with."
Keep it thematically sound
Steer away from incompatible themes and try to keep the commonality of each name on par with one another. "If one name is really traditional and the other is quite alternative it isn't necessarily going to be the best choice," warns Lucy Harris from Hello Baby Bump.
If one kid can find their name on a personalized mug or keychain, you better hope the other one can as well!
And don't forget your other children, too. "We made sure the names fit with our singleton's name," adds Fosselman, "for example we weren’t going to name one Apple and the other David."
If you're still having a hard time...
Lovitz recommends agreeing on a first letter. This letter can serve as inspiration to honor a family member. You'll find suddenly that the universe of names is drastically shrunk to a manageable list.
A name has the power to avert the typical stereotypes of twindom. Twins already enter the world having shared very close quarter for nine months. Their personal bond is unbreakable but their unique personalities post-womb can be fostered by granting them their own identity — and it all starts with their first official moniker after "Twin A" and "Twin B".