If you have twins (or any other number of multiple birth children), then it can be tempting to dress them in identical outfits, especially if they are of the same gender. Is this a bit of harmless fun before they are old enough to choose their own clothes, or does it supress the individual identity of the children, and even cause lasting damage?
Not everyone agrees that it is the right thing to do. Keith Reed, chief executive of the Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba), told the BBC that it is important for parents to help multiple birth children develop their own identities. This includes dressing them in different outfits.
He says: "If they are used to always being together or always wearing the same clothes, then the older they get the more distressed they may become if you try to make changes. However this does not mean denying their special relationship as one of a multiple.”
He adds: "Rather it allows them to see themselves as individuals who have the bonus of being part of a multiple unit."
Twins have always attracted interest, and some parents like to emphasise the physical similarity. It looks cute and photogenic, and it is sometimes just less complicated for a busy parent to buy two of everything in the clothes shop, which means that inevitably the children will sometimes be wearing matching outfits.
Some psychologists argue that being dressed the same reinforces the message that the child is part of a multiple entity rather than an individual, and this may make it harder for them to develop individual personalities. It may even damage the sibling relationship, because they feel as though they need to compete with each other for attention.
It seems that is really no right or wrong answer to the question. Some parents have a reasonable compromise, whereby they dress the kids alike for special occasions; buying identical children's birthday dresses for example. For more everyday wear, including school where teachers need to be able to tell them apart, they dress them differently.
Another option would be to buy the same clothes, but in different colours. Once the children are over the age of three or four, they should be able to make some decisions about what they want to wear. It may be best to just go with the flow: some sets of twins may enjoy their special status as a pair, and wish to strengthen it through their clothing.
On the other hand, they may have developed completely different taste in clothes, or simply want to stand out from each other, and avoid direct comparisons. It seems that until the children are old enough to decide for themselves how to dress, it is really not all that important what they wear.
Insisting that sets of multiple birth children dress identically, even after they are old enough to have an opinion on the matter, is not to be advised. This can lead to resentment building up towards both the parents and between the siblings. Until then, maybe it is harmless fun to have some cute wedding or birthday party pictures to look back on.