Old Wives Tales for Choosing the Sex of Your Baby

Pregnant woman at crib in nursery
Choosing Your Baby's Sex. Hero Images / Getty Images

Many parents-to-be have a gender preference for their future children. Many of these parents don't do anything more than think about it, but some parents are drawn to actually doing something to try to influences whether their baby is a boy or a girl. This is called sex selection.

Most parents include the high-tech ways to choose one sex over another, like Ericsson Albumin Method or preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) as well as low-tech methods that may not have any science behind them at all.

For many, sex selection is not a clinical process at all. They rely more on myths or pregnancy old wives tales to help as they try to conceive the baby of their dreams. There are many methods of trying to select the sex of baby before conception and they fall into a couple of broader categories:

Ovulation Timing

Ovulation timing is about when a baby is conceived relative to when you ovulate. Some of the old wives tales or ideas are very specific, down to hours. The most popular ovulation timing method of conceiving the baby of a specific sex would be the Shettles Method. For a boy, have sex very close to ovulation, for a girl, try to have sex 2-3 days prior to ovulation, according to Shettles. This program has also had various adds-ons including some nutritional components and a look at the pH of the vagina.

There is a girl specific method called O+12. (Pronounced oh plus twelve.) This method says that you should have sex twelve hours after ovulation to conceive a girl.


It is believed that if you eat certain foods, you will change the acidity of the vagina and the sperm, making it more hospitable to certain sperm, male or female carrying. For a baby boy, you should eat a diet that is high in salt, meat and drink carbonated beverages according to folklore. For a baby girl, a mother's diet should consist of vegetables and sweets.

These diets should be long term, at least until conception has occurred, after that it does not matter, as your fate has been sealed.

How to Conceive

More interesting is the physics-based folklore about the positioning during sex. There are also some tales that talk about how to conceive a baby based on who is where, when. This can be anything from: for a boy, think man on top, to girls are born with a woman on top.  There are also recommendations for who has an orgasm. Certainly, male orgasm is always required for conception. However, mom's orgasm apparently matters according to old wives tales. If you want to conceive a girl, no orgasm for the mother, for a boy, the mother should achieve an orgasm.

Sex Selection Importance

It is important to note that most of these ideas are not grounded in science, even when they sound like they are scientifically based. Using sex selection because you have a preference over a girl or boy is one thing, but some families have medical reasons, like sex-linked genetic disorders, that mean that having a baby of one sex or another puts them at a very high risk of a potentially debilitating or deadly disease. if you fall into the latter category, seek help from a qualified medical professional and do not use old wives tales and folklore to help you.