Once upon a time, before ultrasound and sonograms, parents had to wait until their baby entered the world to know if it was a boy or a girl. Of course, that didn’t stop people throughout history from wondering, guessing, predicting, and speculating about the baby’s gender. That’s why there are so many superstitions and old wives’ tales about it that have been passed down from generation to generation. We have a list of some common (and a few lesser-known) gender-predicting wives’ tales. Are you familiar with any of these?
12 Baby Gender-Predicting Wives’ Tales
1. Carrying High or Low?
This is probably the most widely-known baby gender wives’ tale. A woman carrying high with a big round belly is supposedly having a girl. Carrying low with a smaller belly indicates a boy.
2. The Wedding Ring Swing
Someone ties the expectant mother’s wedding ring to a string and holds it over her belly. If the ring sways back and forth, it signifies a boy. If it swings in a steady, circular motion, it’s a girl. Other variations of this old wives’ tale use a needle hanging by a length of sewing thread or a pencil on a string.
3. The Baking Soda Test
This one takes a little effort. First thing in the morning, the mother puts a spoonful of baking soda in a paper cup and then adds some of her urine to the cup. If it fizzes, it’s a sign that she’s having a boy. If it stays flat, the ol’ wives say it’s a girl. And, if you’re an expectant mother and you’re doing this test, you might as well know this additional predictor—if that urine is bright yellow, you will have a little boy. If it’s dull yellow, plan on a girl.
4. Baby’s Heartbeat
If a baby’s heartbeat is above 140 beats per minute, it is said to be a girl. A heart rate below 140 beats per minute indicates a boy.
5. Do the Math
An old Mayan folktale says if you add the mother’s age at conception to the year of conception, the number will tell you the gender. If the result is an even number, then the baby is a girl. If the result is an odd number—it’s a boy!
6. Mom’s Cravings
If a pregnant woman has cravings for sweets or cravings for citrus, that indicates a girl; salty foods, she’s carrying a boy. (This would mean the old cliché about craving pickles and ice cream only applying to those having twins of opposing genders.)
7. Wake Up and Smell the Garlic
This one isn’t about craving garlic, but what happens when a pregnant woman eats it. If the smell of garlic does not come out of her pores, it’s a girl. If the smell seeps out of her pores, it’s a boy—or a pizza.
8. Morning Sickness
If the expectant mother has morning sickness in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, she’s having a girl. If mom escaped that fate, legend predicts it’s a baby boy.
9. Beauty Stealers
If the mother-to-be appears more beautiful during pregnancy, it’s a boy. Less beautiful? That means a baby girl is supposedly “stealing” her mom’s beauty. Plus, baby girls are said to cause acne. If you insist that the mother of your child is more beautiful during pregnancy, no matter the baby’s gender, that’s known as being a smart man.
10. Cold Feet
Some people get cold feet before a wedding, and others do so during pregnancy. Not cold feet as in wanting to back out, but actual cold feet might be a sign that the baby is male. If mom’s feet don’t feel any different than before she was pregnant, it’s a girl.
11. Fat Daddy
Some say if the father gains weight at the same rate as the mother during her pregnancy, it’s a sure sign that the baby is a boy. Other sources say dad’s weight gain indicates that the baby is a girl. In all likelihood, it simply means that dad is really supportive … or hungry.
12. Gray Grandma
If the baby’s maternal grandmother has gray hair, legend says the baby is a boy. This one seems unlikely because were it true, it would mean that if granny was gray for her daughter’s first child, all of that child’s future siblings would have to be male too.
Of course, there is always a 50% chance of a gender prediction being right, which may be why even some of the more questionable predictors have been passed down through the generations. In this age of high-tech medicine, parents can choose to know or not know, and if they know, they can choose whether or not to tell family and friends or keep it a secret until the child is born. Of course, even ultrasounds can be wrong occasionally, so maybe old wives’ tales are a good back-up method for trying to determine a baby’s gender.
Judy Kneiszel is a freelance writer from De Pere, Wisconsin. She contributes to regional and national magazines and newsletters, writing on a wide variety of topics including food, farming, health, renewable energy, and running a small business.