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The Range Between Adult Baby and Diaper Lover

By B. Terrance Grey

Sections: Background and Method - Results and Discussion - Conclusion

Part of the Survey Project at Understanding.Infantilism.Org

Edit 4 December 2016: This initially appeared as a preliminary paper, based on the first three weeks of data from the first survey. As part of the 2016 standards updates, it has been updated to reflect the complete results. The figures and values in the results and discussion section have been updated. The changes were subtle except for Figs 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8, which changed from 3D bar charts to 2D line charts for clarity. The summary and conclusion were edited for clarity, but did not change otherwise.

Since the development of the 'adult baby' and 'diaper lover' terminology decades ago, there has been little progress towards describing the interests of ABDLs. These interests are commonly described as one point (a fetish), two points (adult baby or diaper lover), or a spectrum (AB to DL). The survey results presented here explore a few interests of ABDLs, and show that these descriptions are of limited accuracy.

These interests included wetting and messing diapers, which showed that the interests of ABDLs are not bounded by those of adult babies or diaper lovers. The group most likely to enjoy messing was neither ''only AB'' nor ''only DL',' but ''equally AB and DL'.' Roleplay and regression were also surveyed. The trend from diaper lover to adult baby appears to be an increasing emphasis on roleplay and more elaborate collections of paraphernalia. Finally, sexuality was explored. These results showed that diapers were often sexually arousing, across the ABDL range. However, it also showed that ABDL practices do not include sex for a significant minority.

Collectively, these interests showed that the ABDL community is more diverse and more textured than any description presently in use. This report mapped out a few properties, but fell short of explaining the terrain.

Background and Method

One obstacle to understanding ABDLs is their diversity. It isn't a syndrome. There is one defining difference, an interest in diapers and/or babyhood. Outside of that, tastes and interests vary greatly. They don't have a standard set of symptoms that would define a syndrome. There might be mechanical differences in what drives these interests. There are clearly differences in how these interests are practiced. In ABDL communities, these differences are clear, but difficult to describe. Previous polls and surveys typically averaged across these differences, loosing the texture of the community. This is analogous to averaging all the colors of a rainbow, and ending up with white. Key diversities are lost.

To explore this diversity, a 38-question survey was composed and posted to the internet at the author's website, understanding.infantilism.org. It was announced to a number of email and web-based ABDL communities.

This paper will attempt to illustrate the range between those who consider themselves as adult babies and those who count themselves as diaper lovers. It uses a five-point scale, with diaper lover (DL) and adult baby (AB) on opposite ends. The three intermediate values are "'mostly DL'", "'equally AB and DL'", and "'mostly AB'."

Results and Discussion

A total of 1489 responses were received for this survey, excluding responses from minors and probable duplicates. Of the 1397 that self-identified as AB/DLs, 1311 completed all the relevant questions. The questions relevant to this paper are self-identification on the AB-to-DL range (survey 1, question #4, or S1Q4); roleplay (S1Q24); fantasy role (S1Q25); regression (S1Q26); enjoyment of wetting (S1Q28); enjoyment of messing (S1Q29); ABDL paraphernalia (S1Q30); the presence of sex in ABDL games, scenes, and fantasies (S1Q32); absolute sexual focus of diapers (S1Q33); and relative sexual focus of diapers (S1Q34).

The distribution of participant's reported AB-to-DL self-identification is plotted in Fig 1. Interestingly, it is superficially Gaussian. Defining 'DL only' as 1, 'AB only' as 5, and assuming equal intervals gives a Gaussian fit to 'DL only', 'Mostly DL', and 'Equally AB & DL' with a mean of roughly 2.1 (on the 'Equal' side of 'Mostly DL'), a standard deviation of roughly 0.9, and a scaling factor of 0.86. Since the range below 1 would be binned to 1, but the range above 3 would be shared with 4 and 5, the mean of the fit curve is offset from the mode bin slightly. This fit Gaussian would underestimate the values for 'Mostly AB' (5% vs 11%) and 'AB only' (0.3% vs 11%). (Since the curve is fit to 3 of 5 values expressed as percentages, it isn't coincidental that the scaling factor is similar to the shortfall in the other 2 values.)

Figure #1 - Sample sizes: This plot shows the distribution of ABDLs, with the peak self-classifying as mostly DL.

Wetting and Messing

Wetting and messing diapers is a common practice among ABDLs. Fig 2 plots the percent of ABDLs who reported enjoying these practices either sometimes or more, which varies significantly for both wetting (2x5 Χ2=10.4, p=.03) and messing (2x5 Χ2=32.7, p<.001). ABDLs who identified as 'Only AB' or 'Only DL' were less likely to enjoy wetting than those in between (2x2 Χ2=9.8, p=.002). The contrast between 'Equally AB & DL' and both 'Mostly' options was not significant for wetting, but was for messing (2x2 Χ2=11.9, p<.001). Those in between AB and DL reported wetting and messing at frequencies that were not in between those of ABs and DLs.

Figure #2 - Wetting and Messing Diapers:  This figure shows the distribution of wetting and messing among ABDLs.  Wetting peaks among Mostly AB, and messing peaks among Equally AB+DL.

A more detailed view of the enjoyment of messing shown in Fig 3. It is notable that ABDLs who self-identified as 'Mostly AB' were less likely to report 'yes' than either those who identified as 'Equally AB & DL' (2x2 Χ2=4.3, p=.04) or 'Only AB' (2x2 Χ2=8.0, p=.005). It is also interesting to note that ABs were themselves bimodal, more likely to report 'yes' or 'no' than the intermediate options (2x2 Χ2=10.0, p=.002). This suggest that if this aspect of the AB to DL spectrum is to be described as a continuum, it is neither linear nor a simple arc.

Figure #3 - This figure shows that the mode for DLs is not to mess, for Equally AB+DL to mess.  ABs are bimodal, with peaks at yes and no.


The terms "adult baby" and "diaper lover" developed informally, and so don't have singular, authoritative definition. One common differentiation is based on roleplay: Adult babies act like babies, while diaper lovers do not. This differentiation was stated in the survey question on AB-to-DL self identification. As a result, it is unsurprising that most DLs report 'rarely' or 'never' engaging in roleplay, most ABs report engaging in roleplay 'almost every time' or 'sometimes', and the majority of those in between to report engaging in roleplay 'sometimes,' as shown in Fig 4.

Figure #4 - Roleplay: This plot shows a vaguely linear relationship, transitioning from DLs who tended to never to roleplay in ABDL activities, to ABs who tended to roleplay in almost every ABDL activity.

The trend in paraphernalia, shown in Fig 5, largely follows the trend in roleplay. Most diaper lovers have only diapers and maybe plastic pants. They are largely without the costumes and props used in roleplay. Adult babies are more likely to have toys and baby clothes in their size. There is a clear trend from diaper lover to adult baby: The layettesDEF are increasingly elaborate, but decreasingly consistent. This might be because of the impact of resources: Diapers and plastic pants might be within the means of many ABDLs, while nurseries with custom furniture might be beyond the means of many ABDLs.

Figure #5 - Paraphernalia:  This plot shows that DLs tend to have diapers only, with toys, adult baby clothes, etc becoming more common towards the AB end of the range


While roleplaying, some ABDLs also regress. That is, in addition to dressing and acting like a baby, they try to think like a baby as well. In sadomasochism, this is called a change in headspaceDEF. The distribution of regression is plotted in Fig 6. As would be expected given the trend in roleplay, DLs tended not to try to regress, while others on the AB-to-DL range tried to regress with varying frequencies.

Figure #6 - Regression: This plot shows a gradient between DLs, who seldom regress, and ABs, who sometimes regress.


One ongoing debate, even among ABDLs, is about whether or not the interests of ABDLs are a fetish. The reasons why this summary might be favored are clear. Clinically, the sexual aspects might be emphasized to distinguish paraphilic infantilists from those who regress due to other causes. In more casual conversation, it is much easier to explain a fetish than paraphiliaDEF. However, some ABDLs argue that their interests are neither sexual nor a fetish.

Figure # 7 - Do You Find Diapers Sexually Arousing? : Equally AB+DL were most likely to find diapers arousing.  DLs were the most likely to find diapers more arousing than any other object.  DLs were slightly more likely than AB and Equally AB+DL to find diapers more arousing than any person.

Most, but not all (90%, 1184), ABDLs reported finding diapers sexually arousing sometimes or more. A majority (58%, 766) of ABDLs found diapers more sexually stimulating than any other object, such as an artificial vagina or sex toy, and this did not vary significantly across the AB-to-DL range (2x5 Χ2=1.4, p=.8). A minority (11%, 142) of ABDLs found diapers more sexually arousing than any person they could imagine and this did vary significantly across the AB-to-DL range (2x5 Χ2=16.8, p=.002). The percentage of ABDLs who could be described as having a 'diaper fetish' would vary with the specific definition used.

As was the case with messing, ABs are interestingly divided with regards to sexuality: ABs were least likely to consider diapers sexually arousing (72%, 108, 2x2 Χ2=62.0, p<001), but most likely to be unable to imagine a sexual partner that was more arousing than a diaper (19%, 28 2x2 Χ2=11.0, p=001).

Figure # 8 - Sexuality During ABDL Scenes:  This plot illustrates the distribution of ABDLs.  The mode for Mostly DL and Equally AB+DL was to practice unrestricted sex.  DL, Mostly AB, and AB did not have as clear a mode.

Fig 8 shows the distribution of the reported presence of sex (e.g. masturbation, intercourse, etc.) during structured ABDL scenes, games and fantasies. 39% (516) of ABDLs engage in unrestricted sex during their scenes, games, and fantasies. Another 28% (369) moderate what sexual practices are engaged in. For example, they might engage in masturbation, but not intercourse during the scene, game, or fantasy. In contrast, 10% (136) exclude sexuality entirely from ABDL scenes, games and fantasies, and a further 13% (173) exclude sexuality either when roleplaying or regressed. They might still masturbate, have intercourse, etc. at other times. (The remaining 9% reported not engaging in AB/DL games, scenes, or fantasies.)


This survey has taken a first step towards describing the diversity of ABDLs. However, it also showed the limitations in the ways that ABDLs are currently described. Three descriptions were shown to be approximations at best. The first describes the interests of all ABDLs as a fetish. The second equates adult babyhood with paraphilic infantilism and being a diaper lover with diaper fetishes. The third presumes a linear spectrum between adult baby and diaper lover.

Showing that the interests of all ABDLs can not be generalized as a fetish was difficult, because many ABDLs find diapers sexually arousing. However, a significant minority intentionally exclude sexual activities from their ABDL games, scenes, and fantasies. This observation is not consistent with the description of ABDL interests simply as a diaper fetish.

An alternative to describing everything as one point (a fetish) is to describe it as two points (AB and DL). That is, adult babies act out of paraphilic infantilism only, not fetishism. In turn, diaper lovers act out of diaper fetishism only, not paraphilic infantilism. This also does not match the observations. While some indications of diaper fetishes appear less prevalent among adult babies, they are not absent.

Finally, describing the interests of ABDLs as a single spectrum between two points also has limitations. For example, in terms of messing, those who consider themselves 'mostly AB', 'mostly DL', or 'equally AB and DL' aren't actually between adult baby and DL.

The results presented here show that the ABDL panorama is not simply defined by one point, two distinct points, or a spectrum between two points. These results map out a few properties but fall short of explaining the terrain. A more detailed view might become apparent as more survey responses permit more specific correlations of the data.

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