How Accurate Are Old Wives’ Tales About Gender Prediction?

How Accurate Are Old Wives’ Tales About Gender Prediction?

Curious what type of bun’s in your oven?

We’ve put together a list of the 25 most common old wives’ tales about gender — and whether they’re fact or fiction.

First, a note on language:

As our understanding of sex and gender evolves, the terminology surrounding it can get confusing.

We have used “gender” here since it is a word commonly used when talking about a person’s sex.

(Think gender-reveal parties, for instance.)

But sex and gender are actually different concepts.

Sex refers to physical characteristics like genitalia and chromosomal makeup.
Gender, on the other hand, is a fluid concept that relates to our behavior, identity, and socially constructed roles.

It can also exist outside of the traditional binaries assigned to “men” and “women” in society.

It’s important to note that a person’s gender does not automatically reflect their sex.

And while some folks choose to find out the sex of their baby before they are born, it’s no predictor of their identity or preferences.

With that in mind, let’s dive in.

For as long as we’ve been carrying babies, folklore (and your aunt Marge) has been delivering gems such as pregnancy heartburn means a baby with a full head of hair.

And when it comes to those old wives’ tales, gender (or rather, sex) also gets its fair share of predictions.

From the size of your feet to the condition of your hair and even the color of your urine, much finds its way into this crystal ball.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see if any of these myths are legit.

In this article: 📝

  • Can you predict baby’s sex?
  • What’s the most accurate way to guess baby’s sex?

Can you predict baby’s sex?

You may find that everyone loves to have a go at predicting your baby’s sex.

It may even feel like it should become a national sport!

If this is your first pregnancy, let us prepare you for some of the weird and wonderful predictions that may be coming your way.

Spoiler alert, most have no scientific basis.

But they can be a ton of fun.

1. Garlic guesses

Are you a garlic lover? 🧄

And can you smell it on yourself?

If yes, supposedly, you’re having a boy.

There’s a part two of it too (done at your own risk).

If you’re supposedly able to eat a lot of garlic and not smell like it, you’re having a girl.

If you don’t like garlic at all, you might just be a vampire. 🧛

2. Craving conclusions

Desperate for cake, candy, and sweets, it’s a girl for you.


A boy child.

Nothing medical to back this up, though.

3. Cabbage, not just for coleslaw!

Chop up some red cabbage and cover it with boiling water in a clear bowl.

Let it sit for ten minutes, and scoop the cabbage out.

Collect some of your urine and mix it with equal parts of the blueish cabbage water.

If it turns purple, think pink.

If it goes red or pink, it’s a baby boy for you.

Witchy style fun all around!

4. Baking soda, not just for baking!

Like the cabbage test, just messier.

Take some of your first-morning urine and mix it with two tablespoons of baking soda.

Fizzing tells you you’re having a boy.

No reaction means girl.

No science to back this one up

And quite honestly, we think we’d rather have the cake.

5. The Chinese gender chart

Said to be more than 300 years old, a Chinese Gender Predictor can be a lot of fun to play with.

Enter the month your baby was conceived into the chart, followed by your age at the time, and variables in the lunar calendar will get you your prediction.

Research shows it to be as accurate as a coin toss, but we’ll take it over #4 any day!

6. Number theory

In this one, you add your age at conception to the number of the month you conceived.

Even results give you a boy, odd a girl.

More coin tossing, we say!

7. Urine color

Bright yellow urine is thought to mean you’re carrying a boy.

But at the end of the day, it could just be the effect of your prenatal vitamins.

8. Your first child’s first word

If this is your second child, did your baby say “mama” (girl en route) or “dada” (boy incoming) first?

In reality, according to Roman Jakobson in Studies on Child Language and Aphasia, it has more to do with what’s easier for their little mouths to form — the “d” or the “m”

9. Feet forecasting

There’s an idea that carrying a boy adds half a size to your feet.

We can’t find any studies to say this is so, but there is a lot to say that pregnancy generally causes your feet to swell.

Weight gain and the hormone relaxin, which helps loosen ligaments to accommodate your growing body, can both affect your feet.

Don’t worry, though — they should return to their previous size after birth.

And if you need some help in the meantime, compression socks can be useful.

10. Linea Nigra

This is a dark line that some women develop over their growing bump.

It can run from your belly button until the pubic area, or even extend towards the abdomen.

The old wives say if the line stops at your belly button, you’re having a girl.

If it extends past it, expect a boy.

Doctors say it’s just them pregnancy hormones running amok.

11. Ramzi method

This one starts off very science-y, using an early ultrasound to determine which side of your uterus your baby is attached to.

For a transabdominal ultrasound, a left lying peanut is a boy, and a right resting baby is a girl.

In a transvaginal ultrasound, the results are reversed.

Many mamas swear by this one but science is not so sure.

  1. Skull theory

Not quite as creepy as it sounds — the idea here is that your baby’s skull shape and size can point to their sex.

It requires detailed ultrasound images to be measured, which can make it tricky to do.

Bigger, blockier skulls are said to be boys, and rounder chins and smaller brows are girls.

But experts say don’t get your hopes up.

  1. Breast friends

If lefty is bigger than righty, you’re having a girl.

For a boy, it’s the other way round.

Well, so says Aunt Marge.

The reality is that many women have breasts that are slightly different sizes.

And while pregnancy breast growth can make that difference more pronounced, it’s not really a sign of anything.

Similarly, darker nipples are said to be an indication you’re having a boy.

But it’s actually thought to be by evolutionary design to help the baby see the nipple better and facilitate breastfeeding.

14. A head start?

More headaches are said to be a sign of a boy.

But again, it’s probably just your body dealing with those extra pregnancy hormones.

15. Where you lay your head

This one’s also pretty ancient and equally as random.

A north-facing pillow is for a boy, south for a girl.

But that means whoever built your home may have a hand in conception.

Just a little creepy!

16. Taking sides?

Another odd idea has it that left-hand side sleeping means you’re baking a boy, and right means a girl is on the way.

But It’s probably more about how you’re most comfortable.

17. Nails and hair

If your nails and hair are growing at a rate of knots, the theory is that you’re expecting a boy.

It probably stems from ideas around the connection between masculinity and hairiness.

In reality, there’s a lot of variation amongst women when it comes to hair and nail growth, so this might not be the best way to (um) nail it down.

18. Baby’s heart rate.

This is one of the old wives’ all-time favorites.

A fast heart rate on a scan tells you you’re having a girl; a slower one means you’re having a boy.

But this one’s been conclusively debunked.

19. Ringing it in

This one is a popular baby shower game.

Especially when folk are expecting a surprise.

A ring (usually the wedding or promise ring) is dangled on a string over your pregnant belly.

If it swings in circles you’re having a boy.

In straight lines a girl.

It’s certainly fun but nothing to base your nursery on!

20. How your bump sits.

As you get further along, you may find people will start commenting on your bump’s shape.

A high watermelon-shaped belly is said to indicate a girl.

A low, basketball shape, a boy.

Similarly, where you carry any extra weight you gain tells its own story, according to the old wives.

Weight gained evenly and all round suggests a girl child.

Party in the front and nothing in the back is for boys.

But doctors say this has more to do with your genetics and your own body shape rather than your baby’s sex.

Your belly is also likely to round up lower in subsequent pregnancies as your muscles already know where they’re going.

We say there’s no harm in getting people to guess and charging them for wrong answers. 😉

21. The eye test

Stare into a mirror.

Do your eyes dilate?

Boy baby en route.

Definitely fiction, not fact.

22. Mood swings?

If you’re experiencing intense mood shifts, many will say it’s because you’re having a girl.

A more mellow emotional state is for a boy.

We call nonsense on this one.

Mood swings make sense whatever the sex of your babe.

Pregnancy can be a lot!

23. Is your partner also getting more belly?

If your partner is gaining weight too, it’s said to be because you’re having a girl.

More likely tucking into all your delicious craving foods, we say!

24. Pregnancy nausea

You may have heard that more severe pregnancy nausea means you’re having a girl.

This one may actually have some truth to it, although more research is needed.

A 2017 study backs this up finding that when pregnant with girls, women show a heightened inflammatory response to bacteria.

Thus creating more nausea.

Another earlier study also showed more Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe pregnancy nausea and vomiting) amongst girl mamas.

But we don’t yet know enough to say whether this is an accurate predictor.

25. Your appearance

Finally, an oldie but definitely not a goodie says that girl babies “steal” your beauty.

Breakouts, dull hair, and a pallid complexion are all put down to this girl pregnancy myth.

Boy mamas supposedly get all that pregnancy glow, with lush hair and gorgeous skin.

We think this one should be laid to rest.

There’s nothing scientific behind it and it feels unkind.

There are plenty of other fun ways to guess.

When it comes to sex and gender, old wives’ tales have little science to back them up sadly.

But there’s certainly no harm in friendly guessing.

What’s the most accurate way to guess baby’s sex?

If you want to find out the sex of your baby, doctors suggest waiting for that 20 week scan.

And even then, surprises happen. 😉

Let your Peanut Community know what weird ideas the old wives gender predictions revealed.

And of course, whether they were right.


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