When and How do you find out your baby’s sex?

Written by: Alyssa Larsen



Time to read 6 min

The question on the minds of all parents-to-be as soon as they know they’re expecting: Are we having a baby boy or a baby girl?

The answer to this question can help you prepare for your little one’s arrival. The baby clothes you buy and how you decorate the nursery may be impacted by your baby’s gender, so you might be eager to find out as early as possible.

Luckily for you, we live in a time where you can find out the sex of your baby faster than ever before.

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How Do You Determine the Sex of a Baby?

The most obvious way to know the sex of a baby is by observation of the baby’s genitals. But if it’s not possible to see the penis of a boy or the vulva of a girl yet, then you rely on the baby’s chromosomes. A baby boy carries a combination of X and Y chromosomes, while a baby girl has double X chromosomes.

Indicators of fetal sex chromosomes can be found in the pregnant mother’s blood, the amniotic fluid in the womb, and cells from the placenta that hold fetal DNA. Some of the methods of sex determination in this article will incorporate these elements.

Some of the methods of sex determination in this article will incorporate these elements.

When Do You Find Out the Gender of Your Baby?

While some moms and dads like to wait until the due date to be surprised by the sex of their babies, many want to know the gender of their future little ones the moment they see a positive pregnancy test.

Most parents find out their baby’s gender during the anatomy scan via ultrasound at their routine prenatal visit between 18-20 weeks pregnant.

These days, instead of waiting for that mid-pregnancy appointment, it’s becoming more common for people to pay out of pocket for at-home gender predictor tests that claim to be accurate at just 6 weeks gestation. 

These aren’t the only methods to discovering the sex of a baby, and you can find out at different times in your pregnancy.

7 Methods to Find Out Your Baby’s Sex

Depending on your unique pregnancy, you may find out your baby’s gender through any of these methods:

1. Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT)

NIPT is a blood test sent to a lab for screening. Typically, this blood draw is used for detecting the likelihood of genetic disorders early on in pregnancy. Only the pregnant mother’s blood is taken for this test; the baby is not affected.

As early as 10 weeks pregnant, your blood carries enough of your baby’s DNA for a NIPT to be performed. This test looks for possible chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome, but the results you receive two weeks later can also tell you about the sex chromosomes present in the blood sample.

Depending on your ob-gyn, non-invasive prenatal testing may be presented as an option for all pregnant women, or only for those who have been deemed more likely to have a baby with chromosomal disorders.

2.Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

This is an invasive, but elective, procedure that could be done if you receive a positive result from your NIPT. A CVS is scheduled between weeks 10-13 of your pregnancy. Your doctor takes a sample of your placental tissue through your cervix or with a thin needle through your abdominal wall.

The chorionic villus sampling does not detect all types of birth defects, so a thoughtful discussion with your obstetrics provider is necessary prior to this procedure to decide if it’s the right test for your situation.

Your results may come back from the lab in a few days or up to two weeks later. In addition to confirming chromosomal abnormalities, your baby’s sex can be determined by the presence of—or lack of—the male Y chromosome.

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3. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

People who struggle with fertility issues may choose IVF as a way to grow their families. The in vitro fertilization process is a long one but ultimately aims to fertilize a mature egg with healthy sperm in a lab. An embryo is created and then put into the mother’s uterus for implantation resulting in a pregnancy.

If more than one egg is fertilized during this process, you may have the choice of a male or female embryo for implantation: this way, you will know your baby’s gender before you even get a positive pregnancy test.

4. Ultrasound Scan

An ultrasound uses sound waves emitted from a wand that is gently placed either in your vagina or on your belly to produce an image of your baby.

The ultrasound technician, or sonographer, may use this method to track your baby’s development—like heart rate and bone growth—at certain stages of pregnancy.

The standard anatomy scan is done via ultrasound between 18-20 weeks of pregnancy. If the baby’s genitals are in plain sight during this scan, the ultrasound technician will be able to tell you whether you’re looking at a baby boy or baby girl on the screen.

Sometimes babies are in a position that makes it hard to say for certain what you’re looking at, and a twin pregnancy increases the chance of a blocked view. Although an ultrasound scan has a high percentage of accuracy, the rough outline of genitalia can sometimes stump even the most experienced sonographer.

5. Amniocentesis

Much like the chorionic villus sampling, an amniocentesis may be recommended when further DNA testing is needed, typically as a follow-up to a positive NIPT result or due to a family history of genetic disorders.

Instead of removing tissue from the placenta, like CVS, this procedure samples the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby. With a hollow needle inserted through your abdomen, the fluid is extracted and sent off for testing.

An amniocentesis can be done any time after 15 weeks of pregnancy and results are given within two weeks. The sex of the baby could be given in addition to the findings of the genetic testing, but it shouldn’t be the sole reason for the amniocentesis since there is some risk of miscarriage.

6. Gender Prediction Tests

You can buy gender prediction test kits online or at your local supermarket. There are many different brands, some claiming incredible accuracy, but these tests are mostly just for fun.

There are two types of gender prediction tests: One requires a finger prick for a blood sample that you send away and wait a few days for results. The other uses a urine sample for a quick at-home answer.

Each test has its own timeframe for when you can expect an accurate reading. Most claim that you can take these tests in the first trimester around 6-9 weeks pregnant.

Although using these tests may be an entertaining way to start imagining who your little one will be, it’s best to get confirmation from your healthcare provider before you start personalizing onesies with a baby name.

7. Old Wives’ Tales

Back before there were medical options available for finding out the sex of a baby, pregnant women were just as curious to know if they were carrying a boy or a girl. While not scientifically accurate, these old wives’ tales can still be an amusing way to guess your baby’s gender until your doctor can confirm with one of the other methods.

If you notice your pregnancy cravings are usually for sweets, you’re having a girl. While reaching for a salty snack indicates a baby boy. Combine your urine with baking soda and the mixture will bubble if you’re having a boy. If it doesn’t bubble up, you’re expecting a girl. These are just some of the old wives’ tales for gender prediction, but you can find more here.

Whenever, and however you find out, your baby’s sex will be an exciting moment and the start of many special milestones to come with your new little one. Take this opportunity to surprise your friends and family with a celebration. Plan a baby gender reveal party to let everyone in on the big news!

It doesn’t matter if you’re having a baby boy or a baby girl, or if you don’t know yet, now is the perfect time to start checking boxes off your list of everything you need to get ready for your baby’s arrival.

Scroll through the Nurture& online store and you’ll find premium nursery furniture and baby products made for parents, by parents.

L. Elizabeth Forry

Medically reviewed: Gabriela Alvarado

Medical surgeon with certifications from Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University. Committed to medical excellence, she has conducted several academic research projects that have contributed to the advancement of the field.

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