Which mother and father isn’t curious about the sex of their baby? It can be quite an anxious wait as parents start to think about names and decorating the nursery and buying clothes for their little one.

Traditionally, you have to wait until around half way through your pregnancy before the baby is developed enough to show gender on an ultrasound. This is usually between 16 and 20 weeks of gestation, but gender can be detected as early as 12 weeks these days.

An ultrasound is the most tried and tested method of discovering your baby’s sex for several reasons. It’s non-invasive and is often completely accurate – depending on how long you wait before scanning and how the baby is lying during the scan, that is.

Another highly effective and non-invasive method is to test the blood of the mother. You can buy kits to take blood samples at home or go to your gynecologist to have samples taken there. The doctors will then analyze the DNA from fetal cells found in your blood stream and look for the presence or absence of the Y chromosome. If the chromosome is found, then you are carrying a boy and if it isn’t there, you’re going to have a girl.

This test is done at around the 10 week mark of your pregnancy and has a higher rate of accuracy in terms of identifying gender than almost any other test available – 97%. It is also quite an expensive test but worth doing if you are at a higher risk of having a baby with Down syndrome and other chromosomal conditions. Doctors can get an indication of abnormalities, which will lead them to doing further testing if necessary.

IMPORTANT: No method is 100% accurate, not even an ultrasound examination. So before you go out shopping for blue or pink clothing, it’s best to wait for proper confirmation of your baby’s sex.

IntelliGender test

This is quite a well-known test that is available internationally, and is used by many expecting parents to find out the gender of their baby. It’s very similar in concept to a pharmacy test that you would buy to discover if you are pregnant or not. However, it’s designed to detect the presence of the Y chromosome in your urine.

The test recommends that you use your first urination of the day as it is usually more concentrated after a night’s sleep. Use the container supplied with the chemicals in it, swirl the mixture and leave to stand. The urine will change color according to what the chemicals detect and react to.If the urine turns green, the baby is a boy, and if the urine turns orange, the baby is a girl.

Again, this test is not 100% accurate and you may want to try more than one kit to be sure. It all depends on the concentration of hormones and the Y chromosome.However, it does give you the benefit of being able to test for gender in the comfort of your own home.

Fetal genital tubercle method

This method is really just an advancement in how technicians and doctors read ultrasound results.

The genital tubercle is the root from which the genitalia of the fetus grow. In the first trimester, this nub looks very similar for both boys and girls. This means that it can be incredibly difficult to determine the difference at such an early stage, and it’s why doctors prefer to check for gender in the second trimester when the genitalia have formed more fully.

However, recent developments in the ultrasound equipment allow experts to see much clearer images. This means that doctors can now interpret the images with more accuracy and determine the sex of your baby through the slope of the genital tubercle. If the tubercle is pointing up, the baby is likely a boy, and if it is flat or points down slightly, the baby is likely to be a girl.

A trained eye can tell the sex of the baby with very high accuracy as early as 12 weeks these days. However, it’s important that baby plays ball too and lies in the correct position. If its legs are closed or its back is turned to the scan, no one will be able to tell anything.

Top tip: Try eating chocolate about twenty minutes before your scan. Chocolate can agitate the baby a little, meaning it will open its legs as it moves in the uterus.

Heartbeat method

This is something of an old wives’ tale that has been around for a very long time. The theory goes that if the heart rate is above 150 beats per minute (measured on the ultrasound) then the baby will most likely be a girl. If the heart rate is lower, the baby is said to be a boy.

This is a bit of a myth because the average heart rate for a fetus is between 120 and 150 beats per minute.

Popular theories and superstitions for discovering gender

There are various theories and old wives’ tales that have been doing the rounds for generations. Some of them are so old that not many people actually know where the theory came from and how it has persevered even with modern medicine. Others are newer, but also still just theories.

The fork and spoon game

Basically, get someone to hide a fork in one cushion and a spoon in another without you seeing which one goes where. Then pick one to sit on. If you choose the spoon, you’re having a girl and if you choose the fork, you’re having a boy.

Needle and thread test

Another old wives’ tale you can try is the test with a needle and thread. Hang a needle from some thread over your stomach and watch for the movement. If the needle swings in a circular motion, you’re having a girl. If the needle swings back and fore, you’re having a boy.

Sweet or salty cravings

This theory has to do with any cravings you might be having. If you are hankering after sweet things, then you are having a girl. On the other hand, if you want salt all the time, you’re having a boy.

Mother’s age + month of conception

If you fancy doing a bit of math, this is an old theory you can try out. Take your age at conception and add it to the numerical value of the month you conceived. If the result is an even number, you’re having a girl. If it’s an odd number, you’re having a boy.

It’s clear to see that these methods are not scientific and merely a guess. You’re much better off going to your doctor and doing one of the medically sound tests. However, if you want to have a bit of fun, you could try the theories out and make a family game out of it.

Readers’ questions:

Can the urine gender test go wrong?

Yes, any examination is subject to errors. In this particular test, there is a greater margin for error when it comes back as positive for a boy.

Is the fetal genital tubercle method completely accurate?

No, this test is still dependent on the skill of the doctor and the clarity of the image. The advancements made in ultrasound technology do make it possible to see things much clearer than before, however, the doctor still has to interpret what is shown.