Understanding Infantilism (.org)

The first set of results from the AB, DL, Etc. Survey,

The Range Between Adult Baby and Diaper Lover

-By B. Terrance Grey

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, younger roles, 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 four 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 report presents some results based on the first three weeks of data, some 227 responses. Some of these were incomplete, and so were not counted. Other responses were from non-ABDLs and will be used in later discussions about how ABDLs fit into the larger contexts of ageplay and sadomasochism. The following correlations are based on an average sample size of 203.

This report 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'." Data from non-ABDLs, especially other non-ABDL ageplayers and BDSM enthusiasts who used diapers, is also being collected. This data will be used in a future report on how ABDL fit into the larger fetish and BDSM communities.

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

While this report will not be updated regularly, survey responses are still being gathered. The data will be used for future results and may be used to revisit these results at a later date.

Using Diapers

Wetting and messing diapers is a common practice among ABDLs. Figure #2 plots the percent that enjoy these practices either sometimes or more. Describing ABDL as a spectrum might lead to the expectation that those who self-identify as being between adult baby and diaper lover would have survey answers that are between those of adult baby and diaper lover. In Figure #2 and other results, this is not the case.

Figure #2 shows that 57% of 'only AB's enjoy messing, but only 25% of 'only DL's do. Previously it might have been expected that those who were 'mostly DL', 'mostly AB', or 'equally AB and DL' would be between the values for adult baby and diaper lover. For example, those who were 'equally AB and DL' might be expected to enjoy messing halfway between adult baby and DL, or 41%. In contrast, the result was 67%. They enjoy messing more frequently than those who are either 'only AB' or 'only DL.'

Those who self-identified as being between adult baby and diaper lover were more likely to enjoy wetting and messing than either adult babies or diaper lovers. With 95% confidence, it can be stated that those who group themselves in between adult baby and diaper lover differ significantly from those who group themselves as 'only AB' or 'only DL' in this property. At least as far as messing goes, the interests of those in between adult baby and diaper lover are not bounded by adult baby or diaper lover.

Figure #2 - Wetting and Messing Diapers:  This figure shows the distribution of wetting and messing among ABDLs.  Wetting peaks at 100% among Mostly AB, and messing peaks at 67% among Equally AB+DL.

A more textured view is offered by Figure #3. It is a 3D histogram showing the correlations between self-identification ('only DL', 'mostly DL', etc.) and the enjoyment of messing (yes, sometimes, rarely, or never). The percentages are by self-identification. It shows that the mode (most common result) for diaper lovers is not to enjoy messing diapers. Adult babies tended to enjoy messing diapers either none of the time or all of the time. The frequency of the two adult baby extremes differed by only one response.

Those who consider themselves 'mostly DL' are more likely to enjoy messing diapers than those who are 'only DL's. Those who consider themselves 'mostly AB' are less divided than those who are 'only AB's, and tend to enjoy messing more often. Finally, those who were most likely to enjoy messing count themselves as 'equally AB and DL'.

Figure #3 - Messing 3D Histogram: 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.

One possible explanation for this nonlinearity is that adult babies who's tastes are clearly defined will be less likely to engage in messing or diaper lover-like games. Similarly, the diaper lovers who are not open to trying adult baby-games might also tend not to be open to try messing. In contrast, the open, flexible adult babies and diaper lovers are more likely to try new things. As a result, they will be more likely to then count themselves somewhere between adult baby and diaper lover. Having tried a wider range of practices, they are more likely to enjoy a wider range of practices.

This effect might also be present in the data shown in Figures #6, #7, and #8. However, the effect in those data sets was not statistically significant to the 90% confidence level. A larger sample size is needed.


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. For consistency, this differentiation was stated in the survey question. The histogram of roleplay among ABDLs is shown in Figure #4.

Figure #4 - Roleplay: This plot shows a roughly linear relationship.  The mode for DLs is never to roleplay in ABDL activities, and the mode for ABs is to roleplay in almost every ABDL activity.

The mode for adult babies is to make roleplay central in almost every fantasy, scene, and game. (Given the definition of AB stated in the survey, this is to be expected.) The mode for those who are 'mostly AB' or 'equally AB and DL' is to involve roleplay sometimes, but to engage in more adult play at other times. These three groups consistently prefer the role of toddler (70%, 70%, and 63% respectively). The options for role in the survey were newborn; toddler; small child (before puberty); teen or older child (but not a caregiver); adult (but not a caregiver); unrelated caregiver (teacher, nurse, etc.); and related caregiver (mommy, daddy, etc.). There were also two options for those who did not engage in roleplay, or did so outside a caregiver/child context.

In contrast, those who were 'only DL' or 'mostly DL' have less roleplay. If they have role preferences, they tend to favor older roles. The mode for those who were 'mostly DL' is to engage in roleplay sometimes, depending on other factors. They have a less consistent preference for role, most commonly a small child (32%) or a teen (also 32%). Finally, the mode for diaper lovers is not to engage in roleplay. However, a substantial number of diaper lovers did engage in roleplay. The role preference of 'only DL's is the least consistent: The caregiver roles are most common (31% combined) among those 'only DL's with a role preference.

Figure #5 - Paraphernalia:  This plot shows a strong mode for DLs to have diapers only, while other ABDLs tend to have toys and maybe adult baby clothes

These observations are confirmed by the amount of paraphernalia that each group has acquired, plotted in Figure #5. Most diaper lovers have only diapers and maybe plastic pants. Since few engaged in roleplay, they are largely without the costumes and props used in roleplay. The mode for adult babies is to have diapers, 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 are within the means of many ABDLs, while nurseries with custom furniture are beyond the means of most ABDLs.


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 Figure #6.

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

The survey question on regression was relative; it asked how often one regressed while roleplaying. As a result, responses for both roleplaying and regression while roleplaying were used to get a value for regression. After conversion, the results showed that 91% of adult babies and 0% of diaper lovers regressed sometimes or more. The converted results are plotted in Figure #6.


One ongoing debate, even among ABDLs, is about whether or not the interests of ABDLs can be summarized as 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. As the following plots will show, both sides of this debate are partially right.

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.

The sexual arousal from diapers is plotted in Figure #7. The vast majority of all ABDLs (93%) find diapers sexually arousing. However, some of them could imagine a device, such as an artificial vagina or sex toy, that was more sexually arousing than diapers. 55% of all ABDLs found diapers more arousing than any other object. Furthermore, many of them could imagine a person that was more sexually arousing than a diaper. Only 13% of ABDLs find diapers more sexually arousing than any person. Depending on how loosely the term 'diaper fetish' is used, it could be said that 13%, 55% or 93% of ABDLs have a diaper fetish.

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.

Figure #8 offers a different perspective, using data from another question. It indicates the presence of sex (masturbation, intercourse, etc.) during structured ABDL events (scenes, games and fantasies). As one might expect from Figure #7, 37% of ABDLs engage in unrestricted sex during their scenes, games, and fantasies. Another 25% moderate what sexual practices are engaged in. For example, they might engage in masturbation, but not intercourse during the scene, game, or fantasy. Clearly, ABDL games are sexually arousing for many.

However, Figure #8 shows a detail that Figure #7 did not: A significant minority (32%) exclude sexuality either when regressed, roleplaying, or altogether from their games, scenes, and fantasies. They might still masturbate, have intercourse, etc. at other times. This behavior is not consistent with a simple diaper fetish. So while ABDLs across the range might have diaper fetishes, the interests of all ABDLs cannot be simply described as a diaper fetish.


This survey has taken a 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. Figure #8 plots the distribution of this minority. 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 levels of diaper fetish might be less prevalent among adult babies, they are not absent. Figure #7 plots the distribution of fetishes from adult baby to diaper lover.

Finally, describing the interests of ABDLs as a single spectrum between two points also has limitations. Figure #3 shows that, in at least one property, 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, a few 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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