On Predictions: Old Wives’ Tales


Knowing whether you’re having a boy or a girl is a really big deal to a lot of people. It determines the name you give, the color your paint the nursery, what clothes to buy, what fabrics your grandmother is going to use to make that quilt she wants to give to you. Sometimes it helps you plan whether you want to have more kids or not!

In my own personal journey, the only thing it’s going to influence is the name. Still, it’s nice to know what to expect!

Before we had blood tests and ultrasounds, we had sage older women who had seen it all and started to pick out some patterns. (Or the spiritual old women who believed a certain force existed depending if you were carrying a boy or a girl!) I’m going to break out a few grand sex-predicting traditions and apply them to my own experience. Let’s see what we find!

Ring on a string

According to this tale, you are supposed to take your wedding ring (because of course you’re properly married, right?), put it on a piece of string or a strand of the father’s hair, and hold it over your belly, wrist, or palm.

If the motion is left to right, like a pendulum, you’re expecting a boy. If it swings in a circle, it’s a girl!

I tried this with my wedding ring and the chain from my necklace. I dangled it in front of my belly while I was sitting up. It gave me a wobbly circle.


Morning sickness

This one’s pretty straightforward: if the nausea just keeps coming, it’s a girl. If it’s light or only in one period of the day, it’s a boy.

There is apparently some medical truth to this in that women pregnant with girls often have higher hCG, which increases nausea. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty poor predictor by itself because hCG levels vary wildly and it’s plenty possible for a pregnant woman to have high hCG levels but be pregnant with a boy.

For me, nausea tends to come right in the morning or in the evening.



This one ties into that famous nursery rhyme about what boys and girls are made of:

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails
That’s what little boys are made of

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And all things nice
That’s what little girls are made of

The theory goes that if you’re craving lots of sugar, sweets, and dairy, it’s because of the little girl you’re carrying, whereas if you’re craving sour, salty and spicy things, it’s a boy. 

I’ve been really digging salads and sour candy, so this one feels a bit inconclusive on my end — until I remember that I almost always otherwise really love sweets. That’s been missing here.



This is one of the crueler predictions. It goes alongside a few others also related to the appearance of the mother: are you glowing? Is your hair glossy and thick and strong? It’s a boy! If people are asking you if you’re feeling well, and your hair is limp, and you otherwise look like you’ve been hit by a truck, it’s because you’re carrying a little girl and she’s stealing your beauty.

I’ve had uncommonly great hair and far less acne than my hormones normally grace me with, so this one feels pretty conclusive to me.


Weight distribution

In the same vein as acne/appearance, weight distribution asks mother to critically examine her growing, misshapen body and determine where the damage is worst. Are you carrying weight almost exclusively in the belly area? You’ve been graced with a boy! If you’re lumpy all over, it’s a girl.

I’ve been gaining weight pretty evenly. I’m not showing yet (not in an obvious “you’re pregnant!” way) and the shape change being all over is probably contributing to that.


Chinese calendar

If you check the mother’s lunar age and the lunar month of conception, this Qing Dynasty calendar is said to be able to predict what gender your baby will be.

The tricky part is finding the right calendar. Western calendars aren’t lunar. What you think of as your age may or may not agree with the Chinese calendar. I found a site that offers a Gregorian-Chinese Lunar calendar converter, so I went with that.

My lunar age is 30 and my lunar month at conception is March so…


Mayan calendar

This one is much simpler and based on mathematics that seem to have very little to do with biology. I’d probably take this one with an even bigger grain of salt than the Chinese calendar!



Age at conception:
30 (even)

Month of conception:
April (4 – even)




Current Tally:

Boy: 3

Girl: 4

Coming up next: modern curiosities

Technology’s come a long way. Before we get into medical technology, though, let’s take a look at what modern household cleaners and vegetables can tell us about our baby…