Want to have a daughter? Well, then quit bananas and go on a diet of beans and hard cheese, say scientists.
Researchers from Maastricht University in Holland have discovered that a combination of the right food and the timing of sex are the key to the nursery being painted pink rather than blue.
They say that the trick is to refrain from eating sodium and potassium-rich foods, such as anchovies, olives, bacon, salami, smoked salmon, prawns, savoury rice, blue cheese, potatoes, processed meats, bread and pastries.
Instead they should concentrate on foods rich in calcium and magnesium.
Foods containing high amounts of calcium include yoghurt, hard cheese, canned salmon, rhubarb, spinach, tofu, almonds, oatmeal, broccoli and oranges.
Brazil and cashew nuts, whole-wheat cereals, figs and beans are rich in magnesium.
The researchers claim that the father’s diet has no effect on what sex the baby will be.
If prospective mothers want a daughter, the scientists also recommend having regular sex – but not on days immediately prior or after ovulation.
Their conclusions follow a five-year study involving 172 Western European women aged from 23 to 42. The women had all previously given birth to boys – in one case, four of them – and wanted girls.
They were told to cut out salt and eat at least a pound of dairy products a day. Their diet also included bread, vegetables, fruit, meat, rice and pasta.
Although many of the women dropped out of the survey because they failed to adhere to the strict dietary requirements or rules on when to have sex, 21 women stuck it out to the end.
Of the 21, 16 gave birth to daughters – an astonishing success rate of almost 80 per cent.
"The results show that both diet and timing methods increase the probability of girl – the impact of the diet being the most pronounced," the Daily Mail quoted a spokesman for the scientists as saying.