Paraphilic infantilism is not to be confused with certain medical conditions of arrested physical development, which are typically referred to in the medical field "physiological infantilism." For the sake of clarity, in the remainder of this article, the word "infantilism" will be used to refer to what is technically called "paraphilic infantilism."
Infantilism in young children
Infantile regression is sometimes noted in young children, and is often associated with their exposure to stressful environmental conditions. This is usually under the idea of returning to a time when things were simpler, and the child did not worry, or have cause to worry. Such regression is usually temporary, as the parents and child will have time to sort out his or her feelings before they set. In older children, the duration tends to be longer, and sometimes becomes a chronic condition that lasts throughout their life.
Conscious vs Subconscious
Such irrational fantasies are almost always seated deep in the subconscious mind, which by definition does not always operate on the level of common conscious rationality. As such, any attempt to successfully modify this behavior pattern must by definition be capable of correctly interpreting the subconscious needs of the individual and of somehow meeting these needs in more rational ways.
A common object of fixation
Perhaps the most common object of fixation amongst infantilists is the diaper. Most infantilists feel drawn to wear and/or use diapers. The frequency of wearing and/or use ranges from once a year to continuously, varying from individual to individual, and often varying within the same individual from year to year.
Some infantilist lifestyles
Infantilists usually combine the submission of the baby role with the fetishes of diapers , though not all infantilists actually practice coprophilia or watersports . Some, known as diaper lovers (or DLs) enjoy wearing diapers without taking the role of an infant. Those who prefer to role play as infants are often referred to as adult babies (or ABs). Where dominance and submission are involved, the top or dominant plays the role of a parent, nursemaid, or babysitter . Some inafantalists can also be classified as furries . A couple of crossover groups between infantalists and furries are called "diaperfurs" ( furries who are primarily ABs or DLs, represended in costumes , art , and/or writing ) and "babyfurs" ( furries that are usually represented in art and/or writing in infant or child form). The age at whcih a "babyfur" becomes a "diaperfur" is debatable, with no clear section of either being given to TBs (although a tendency is to base these classification on how one acts, rather than one's age).
Some forms of infantilism are purely regressive, without any sexual content. After an individual has reached full maturity, including a fully independent living situation, as well as stabilized in his or her long term sexual role in society, most infantilists report having incorporated certain aspects of sexuality into their infantilism. However, some few adult infantilists report never having done so. Even though some infantilists may never incorporate any aspects of sexuality into their practice, most adult infantilists would agree that their practice of infantilism has minimally had a profound effect on their sexuality, if not having been a direct part of it.
Some younger adult infantilists experiment with 'adoption'
Some infantilists, however, find great difficulty in conceding to the reality of these types of practical concerns regarding this fantasy, and become fixated upon the fantasy. These infantilists (both male and female) will search for mommies or daddies that might keep them as babies 24/7 for 'the rest of their lives'. These infantilists sometimes roleplay as if this were a 'legal adoption'.
Such 'adoptions' are normally facilitated through the Internet on websites which function much like dating sites. There are message boards/notice boards with a header and sometimes a picture and a message text describing the person. 'Adoption' in ABDL does not usually mean singles searching for one another, but can include this. Other less common ads feature couples or groups looking for an adult baby or an adult baby looking for either of the two or other babies. These types of living situations sometimes develop into lasting friendships and in addition to infantilism, usually include all of the regular dynamics found in any other type of interpersonal relationship.
These types of living situations that attempt to create a 24/7 permanent regression generally last for, from between a few weeks up to two to three years. To date, no cases have been reliably reported of any such arrangements lasting any more than two or three years. (Some clearly fictional cases have been claimed, but these have never stood up to further investigation.) Eventually this type of an arrangement seems to prove to be too much of a financial drain on the ‘caregiver(s)' and the novelty of it wears off for both the caregiver(s) and the infantilist. Other living arrangements are then made, or other living formats allowed for. Format changes may include a continuation of, but a reduction of the periods of regression. On occasion such enactments of this extreme fantasy have received wide publicity and press.
Most older adult infantilists eventually reach a state of equilibrium
The majority of older adult infantilists after some time, usually reach a state of some type of equilibrium with their infantilist practice. In the majority of cases, this entails job stability, and usually a living situation that is some sort of a compromise between infantilism and normality.
The psychology of infantilism
Psychological perspectives on infantilism
In adult psychology and sexuality, infantilism is usually regarded as a type of sexual roleplaying and is often viewed as a variation of BDSM . In this variation, the person takes on one or more aspects of the role of a baby . It is a subset of ageplay and often regarded as edgeplay . In the context of fetishism or BDSM, it is more properly referred to as ABDL , and persons engaging in the practice as either adult babies or Diaper Lovers .
Some commonly experienced inner dynamics
The binge-purge cycle phenomenon
One interesting aspect of this tension that many infantilists have experienced, usually during the earlier stages of their infantilism, is the binge-purge cycle. Quite often, an infantilist who has only recently begun to discover his or her infantilist desire, will find him or herself going through cycles of buying several infantilist things, using some of them, then taking a vow to one's self never to repeat this. The person then bravely disposes of all of his or her paraphernalia, only to find that after a certain period of ever increasing inner tension the individual once again goes online or to the store and buys all of these things back again, at significant duplicated expense. This sad cycle has been known to happen to some individuals 10, twenty or even thirty times. Eventually it dawns in the individual's mind that demonstrating one's physical ability to dispose of all of one's paraphernalia will in no way result in creating one's mental ability to rid one's self of the desires.
A fantasy of permanent regression
During the early stages of infantilism, many infantilists report having the fantasy that somehow they might be able to achieve a living situation in which ‘permanent regression' would be possible. In other words, the fantasy that somehow they could find others who would be willing to provide them with all of the physical necessities of life, in addition to treating them as a baby, for the rest of their lives. Clearly, this fantasy is impractical at first consideration, and ultimately irrational. In the vast majority of cases, after some deliberation, the impractical nature of this fantasy is eventually recognized and accepted by an infantilist, and some more practical means of finding some sort of a working compromise in one's lifestyle is eventually found. In some extreme cases, this impractical fantasy is pursued to some extent. (See Some Infantilist Lifestyles above).
A conscious vs: subconscious tension
Amongst infantilists, the attitude that an infantilist may take towards his or her infantilistic desires often varies considerably from individual to individual. Many life-long infantilists report no longer having any qualms whatsoever about integrating their regressive roleplay into the larger set of behaviors that defines their overall lifestyle. Others report a persistent tension or conflict between their desire to regress, and their desire to be ‘normal'. Some report feeling this persistent tension for the entirety of their lives on through to retirement and old age. Very few report ever being able to succeed in completely alleviating the desire for any meaningful length of time.
A release of stress and tension (similar to the release of sexual tension)
Most infantilists report experiencing a great release of emotional stress and tension when they assume the infantilist role, as well as feelings of great inner security and contentment. These feelings are nearly identical to those feelings reported by most as a result of engaging in normal sexual relations. These feelings may harken back to feelings experienced during infancy or early childhood.
An eventual development of some form of acceptance
The experience of the Binge-Purge Cycle is somewhat similar to what many homosexuals have reported, after the initial discovery of their sexual orientations. In both cases, after a certain period of some inner conflict, most eventually learn to accept these subconscious traits in one way or another, rather than to attempt, unsuccessfully, to root them out. After some time, most infantilists eventually reach a certain type of a practical compromise in their lives, that enables them to both live a relatively normal life, while still indulging their infantilistic desires to a certain extent.
Possible psychological causes and effects
The irrational fantasy of regression that is central to infantilism is most commonly believed to be the result of some form of perceived childhood trauma. Due to the fact that such incidents are usually centered around recalled memories from the distant past, and also because any adult caregivers that may have inadvertently contributed in any way to any such perceived traumas, or who may have consciously perpetrated them, are not likely to confirm their contributions as such, these types of incidents are naturally quite difficult to verify or document. Nearly always, such experiences have some effect on the sex life of the individual. While not all forms of infantilism include sexual gratification, minimally infantilism does appear to have some very definite sexual implications and connections. Also, cases do exist where child abuse can be reasonably ruled out as a likely cause.
Infantilism and the domineering parent/ submissive child
Within the field of modern psychology, to this day, divided opinions exist regarding which type of relationship between parent and child is the most healthy. Some schools of thought hold that a relationship that has no ultimate goal of eventual equality or parity between parent and child is normal and healthy. Other schools of thought hold that the only truly healthy relationship between parent and child is one which consistently aims at the eventual establishment of full equality and parity between parent and child. Regardless of which school of thought may be closest to the truth, one strikingly common phenomenon found amongst both infantilists and their parents seems to be an almost universal belief that full equality or parity between parent and child is not healthy or natural. Some rare exceptions are known to exist.
Infantilism and child neglect or abuse
Forced diaper wearing, a form of child abuse?
- Modern psychology has documented the fact that positive reinforcement is always a preferred means for teaching children, if at all possible, and that it is nearly always far more effective than negative forms of teaching. Over time, several forms of teaching children that involved negative reinforcement that were once regarded as socially and psychologically acceptable have now been found to be absolutely unacceptable, and in some cases, have even been labeled as child abuse . Forcing a child to wear a diaper when it is no longer clearly needed is one of these forms of teaching that has been found to be psychologically unacceptable.
- The frequent choice of a parent to prefer the use of force, shame or fear in the place of persuasion and reason while teaching one's children is one hallmark of a domineering parent. The frequent use of such motivators is also often found to increase the likelihood of child-to-parent alienation at some point after the child has entered into adulthood. Children who are found to have been given a sense that their intellect, their intentions, and their abilities are generally appreciated have been found to have a much higher probability of retaining a friendship with parents throughout their lives.
- The time of toilet training has been found to be an extremely important psychological building block within an individuals subconscious psychological makeup. Accordingly, it has been found that it is extremely important that caregivers use only positive reinforcement and encouragement during this crucial phase, recognizing every achievement in this area as an important success, and always treating any difficulties in this area as mere temporary setbacks, not to be dwelt upon, or punished, or made to feel ashamed for these.
- During this phase it is essential that the child's ability to better understand, and to thereby control his or her own bodily functions never be unilaterally dictated by a caregiver, but always allowed to grow naturally, step by step, with encouragement only, and never coercion. During this phase, should a child wish to try foregoing diapers, it is of the utmost importance that the child always be allowed and even encouraged to do so. During such a trial period, should the child's wish to forego diapers be found to be premature, the child should never be forced against his or her will back into them, but only after the child and the caregiver are able to come to a mutual agreement, based upon calm reasoning with the child and the pointing out of clear facts, that clearly demonstrate that such a trial was premature.
- The use of forced diaper wearing as a form of punishment during this period of development has nearly always been found to have various negative consequences. Amongst some of the potential negative consequences of this are; the later development of infantilism as a teenager or adult, the development of various sexual dysfunctions, the development of other various forms of psychological or neurological damage, or worse. Within the field of child psychology, the use of forced diaper wearing as a form of punishment for children is now almost universally recognized as extremely irresponsible behavior at best, and verging on child sexual abuse at worst.
Some forms of infantilism may not have abuse component
- Even though many infantilists report clear memories of various forms of childhood abuse, some do not. It is believed that some types of infantilism may develop merely as the result of related physiological problems, or for other non-abuse related reasons. It appears that while such non-abuse related causes for infantilism clearly do exist, still they are probably in the minority amongst infantilists. - - Other infantilists report only discovering much later in their adult lives, what abuses went on while a young child. Parents of an adult infantilist who seem to be unable to relinquish the dominant role that existed in childhood, may be good candidates for further investigation into one's childhood past. Parents of an adult infantilist who are able to view their child as a peer or equal are usually considered to be less likely to have been abusers. The likelihood that an infantilist will believe his or her infantilism may have had an abuse component increases significantly, after several years of living independent from caregivers is achieved.
Infantilism and gender identity
One unusual aspect of infantilism is the disproportionate number of male infantilists vs: female infantilists. Based upon what is known of those infantilists who are willing to discuss their infantilism with others, many estimates of the ratio run from 95% to 99% of all infantilists being male. On the other hand, some believe that the apparent male majority may in reality be much smaller, due to a tendency amongst females to be less likely to openly discuss the fetish.
While no definitive studies have yet been made regarding the incidence of true homosexuality or bisexuality amongst infantilists, this incidence is believed in all probability to be approximately the same as, or slightly higher than, this incidence in the general population, at roughly 5% to 10%, depending on the definition. Accordingly, the great majority of infantilists are believed to be heterosexual males.
Infantilism and gender switch roleplaying
A significant minority of male ABs like to switch gender as a part of their regressive roleplay. This type of gender-switch-roleplaying shares some similarities with transvestism . As with transvestism, the gender role that an AB (boy or girl) assumes while roleplaying seldom affects the gender identity of that same individual outside of roleplaying. Another role that is sometimes assumed by some ABs while engaged in regressive roleplaying is that of the homosexual or bisexual . There is some confusion as to whether or not this indicates that the individual is indeed a bisexual or homosexual person. As with other types of regressive-gender-switch-roleplaying, the majority of these individuals usually do not exhibit any significant homosexual or bisexual behavior patterns while outside of regressive roleplaying.
Some AB's who engage in regressive-gender-switch-roleplaying like to be referred to simply as a girl baby or a boy baby , others prefer to be called sissy babies . Various types of shaming, punishment, discipline, and crossdressing often accompany regressive-gender-switch-roleplaying.
Even more rare, some ABs wish to have sex reassignment surgery , or to be castrated . Although this wish exists only as a fantasy for most of those who have the wish, for a few it has been made a reality. Those few who have had sex reassignment surgery or been castrated usually fall into one or more of the following three categories.
1. They hope to live out their lives as a woman/baby girl in reality.
2. They hope the SRS/castration surgery will enhance the experience of being a sissy baby, and/ or of being more submissive.
3. They hope to rid themselves of the practice of infantilism entirely, which has not yet been found to work.
Academic researchers and case study submissions invited
Unfortunately, the majority of the information in this section is necessarily anecdotal. This is due to the fact that to date there have not yet been any major scholarly academic studies made of the phenomenon of infantilism. Some of the authors of this page would like to facilitate such work, and to assist in potential collaboration between academic researchers in this area, and/or infantilists. If any academic researcher might be interested, a list of other academic researchers, and numerous contacts within the infantilist communities can be made available upon suitable request by emailing to OrbitOne: wikipedia-email . Also, if any psychologist or psychiatrist may have anything to add or to alter about this information, or might have any relevant case studies, any such information would be most gratefully accepted and incorporated into this article at the same email addresses above. (Naturally, direct editing by any such professionals would also always be most gratefully welcomed.)
Impact and ramifications
Infantilism is found in all age groups. Most adult infantilists practice infantilism with great discretion. However, in some extremely rare cases, some AB's have made attempts to enter semi-permanently or even permanently into the regressive role. One cannot help but to question the practical feasibility of such an attempt. In the vast majority of individuals, the practice of infantilism is carried out only in strict privacy, and in ways that do not conflict with the individual's ability to earn a normal livelihood. As with most alternate life-styles there appears to be an infinite number of variations in the specific ways that infantilists may choose to practice infantilism. Many have managed to practice it while marrying, raising a family, and leading successful careers. Others have been less fortunate and have found divorce, and other types of social stigma to result.
Teenaged infantilists, or Teen Babies , usually remain segregated from adult infantilists. Infantilism practitioners usually divide themselves between teen babies (or TB's ), who begin to practice infantilism between the ages of twelve to twenty, and adult babies (or AB's ), who either begin to or continue to practice infantilism at higher ages. For legal reasons adults are limited from discussing sexual aspects with minors, and online communities therefore seek to separate them. Both enjoy shedding the hardships of life and regressing to an earlier time. This can include wearing and using diapers, using baby paraphernalia (such as pacifiers, bibs, bottles, rattles and toys), and being taken care of by someone else. Another allied phenomenon is the Daddy's Girl fetish lifestyle.
Subsets based on importance of ageplay, (DL's and AB's)
Diaper wearing is a sexual fetish for many adults that does not always incorporate the desire to regress in any other way. In such cases, those adults who enjoy wearing diapers, without sensing any desire to regress in any other way, often prefer to be referred to as Diaper Lovers ( DL's ). In fact, some who employ diapers only for the occasional purpose of sexual gratification, find themselves to be quite surprised when being classified together with others who are far more involved with them. Some Diaper Lovers even feel offended should any connection between themselves and infantilism be implied by others. Others voice less concern over such a distinction.
Those who, in their practice of infantilism, incorporate strong elements of the desire to otherwise regress, through various forms of role playing, often like to refer to themselves as Adult Babies ( AB's ), as opposed to Diaper Lovers.
Undoubtedly, infantilism does not present us with any black and white definitions, rather, it presents us with a seemingly infinite spectrum of various forms of behaviors.
Infantilism and Christianity
Biblically speaking, there are no clear-cut or direct references found within the Christian Bible to infantilism. However, within the Old Testament, there are numerous references to ritual purity that some Christians believe should be applied to infantilism. Due to the fact that there is an entire spectrum of varying beliefs and denominations within Christianity, and also due to the fact that there is no clear-cut reference to infantilism within the Bible, there is no one single view of infantilism that is held by most of those who consider themselves to be Christians, or even by any majority of those who consider themselves to be Christians.
Amongst the more conservative fundamentalist denominations, many have adopted the same views towards infantilism that they have adopted towards homosexuality, namely a view of the condemnation of the practice. Amongst more liberal Christian denominations, greater toleration seems to generally be practiced. This greater toleration towards infantilism by the more liberal denominations is also similar to the positions taken by these same denominations towards homosexuality.
The parallels between positions taken towards homosexuality and towards infantilism by various Christian denominations are somewhat unexpected, as many clear-cut condemnations of homosexuality can be found in the Bible, yet none can be found regarding infantilism.
Infantilism and privacy
Infantilism and privacy for adult infantilists
For most individuals, it is difficult to discuss one's private desires with most others, especially when such desires are as uncommon as infantilism. For adult infantilists who have ‘significant others', the policy of honesty would seem to be the best policy. This is especially true due to the fact that there are certain areas of overlap between infantilism and sexual intimacy in general, and to attempt to separate these two is not only somewhat dishonest to one's partner, but also to one's self. This is not to say that one's partner should necessarily be required to hear about all of the details. Only to say that one's partner ought to know that he or she has access to as much information as he or she wants to know, or is comfortable knowing, regarding the practice.
In all other personal relationships which do not include intimacy, it would seem that full honesty about the practice is not only unnecessary, but in most cases, to hold back from full honesty and to choose to be discreet instead, would even be a sort of a courtesy. In other words, the parents of an adult infantilist, the children of an adult infantilist, and probably most of the friends of an adult infantilist are most often better off not knowing, or at least not knowing the full extent of the practice.
In many cases it has been reported that the children of infantilists, being as naturally inquisitive and nosey as children are, eventually find out about the fact that one of their parents occasionally wears diapers. In such cases, it may be wise to allow the child to know only as much as he or she needs to know, in other words, explaining something like ‘Yes, daddy does have a certain ‘condition' that makes him have to wear diapers,' but explaining no more, should the question ever arise. To expose a child to any more than this, is believed to have potentially harmful ramifications for the child, and may even be regarded by some as a form of willful neglect or even abuse of a child.
Some couples that incorporate infantilism into their relationship deliberately choose not to have children, in consideration of their view that they may not be capable of providing an environment for a child where the child could develop 'normally'. Others report successfully raising their children without their children ever being affected by, or knowing, the full extent of their practice of it.
Within the infantilist community there are some who believe that as with homosexuality, it is best to ‘out' infantilism, or to bring infantilist individuals 'out' into public scrutiny so that the public can be made more aware of infantilism (and supposedly eventually more tolerant of it). These people are a minority within the infantilist community. The majority of infantilists believe that keeping one's private matters private, in all cases, except where absolutely necessary is generally the best policy. See section below titled Infantilism and Care for Privacy Concerns of the General Public .
Fortunately, due to the existence of the Internet, many infantilists have found that they can retain a sufficient level of privacy, while still discussing certain aspects of the practice with other infantilists in various internet forums and bulletin boards. See related links below for more information on this.
Infantilism and care for privacy concerns of the general public
Amongst infantilists, it is estimated that approximately 60% - 70% of all adult infantilists have made a conscious decision to practice infantilism only in the ‘full privacy' of their own house or apartment, and they seem to consistently follow this policy. Amongst the remaining 30% - 40% there are varying levels of ‘reduced privacy' that may be chosen. Reasons for ‘reduced privacy' vary. A desire for self humiliation is often a component of such a practice. A certain desire to annoy, disturb or disgust others is also sometimes a component of this practice. Such behaviors, particularly the conscious decision to intentionally degrade the quality of life of those around one, are highly controversial.
Some who practice ‘reduced privacy' will explain to anyone who might inquire that they have a ‘medical' problem, and take it no further. Those who go no further than this generally seem to cause little or no difficulties for those around them.
On the more extreme end of this scale there are those who will intentionally expose their diapers to others, or even semi-intentionally create situations in which they are 'caught' by others in various compromised circumstances regarding their diapers.
While such behavior may bring a certain sense of satisfaction to some, one cannot deny the fact that such behavior amounts to gratuitously causing and delighting in the stress and/ or difficulties of others. The taking of such adverse pleasure in the difficulties of others may possibly be regarded as a variant form of sadism forced upon the public at large. Some infantilists who have been known to take these sorts of games too far have on occasion been arrested by the police.
Infantilists who have shown a reckless disregard for the public have been known to cause financial harm to restaurants and their employees, to store owners, and the list goes on and on. Undoubtedly, at certain points in the early lives of many infantilists, such stress and difficulty may have been forced upon them, but this does not justify repeating such behavior at the expense of even more additional innocent victims. For any infantilist who (for whatever reason) should choose the path of ‘reduced privacy', the motto ' do no harm' is perhaps the best guideline. By this it is meant, do not do anything that could be construed as gratuitously delighting in the distress or difficulties of others.
ABs and DLs are sometimes known to deliberately seek, or incidentally undergo, loss of bowel control or urinary incontinence . While they may accept these conditions willingly and not consider them health problems, there are associated risks. The loss of bowel control can lead to infections in the area or third party infections inflicted onto a partner or bystanders. In urinary and bowel loss, diaper rash can be a common ailment. This also can reduce privacy as diapers are needed in public as well.
Some interpersonal relationships that incorporate infantilism
Many interpersonal relationships that incorporate infantilism are between friends that have this common interest. Some infantilists form long lasting interpersonal relationships with a (professional) nanny who accepts payment to take care of the infantilist for an agreed period of time. Some have then even reported that such a nanny has eventually become the long term Significant Other of the infantilist. Another common type of interpersonal relationship that incorporates infantilism is the standard husband and wife marital relationship.
Other possible combinations are the ‘wife' and ‘wife' relationship which usually incorporates homosexuality, the ‘husband' and ‘husband' relationship which also usually incorporates homosexuality, or various threesome relationships where one may play the infantilist role more than the other two.
Generally, amongst younger adult infantilists, the most common type of interpersonal relationship that incorporates infantilism seems to be between two or more infantilists. Amongst older adult infantilists, the most common type of relationship that incorporates infantilism seems to be some form of a marital relationship.
The significant others (SO's) of infantilists
Many infantilists report having found very nurturing and caring partners, who have supported them and continue to support them in varying ways. In the case of marriage, some spouses participate in role playing, others do not. The nature of the initial informing about, or discovery of, the existence infantilism often sets the tone for the remainder of the relationship. As in all things, honesty, both on the part of the infantilist, and on the part of the significant other regarding his or her initial feelings and/ or reactions, is always the best policy, even though such honesty may not always be easy.