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Girls, Boys, and Diapers

By B. Terrance Grey

The analysis presented here explored some of the similarities and differences between male and female Adult Babies and/or Diaper Lovers (AB/DLs). While differing in prevalence, male and female AB/DLs were comparable. The highest level of similarity was in cases with an early onset, before ten years of age. A histogram of the ages at which AB/DLs first noticed or acted upon their interest had roughly common features for both genders. The curves for both boys and girls dropped off between thirteen to sixteen years of age. This might be due to a critical period, analogous to the development of language. However, there are other explanations for this window. Given the biological differences between boys and girls, larger differences were expected.

The similarities between male and female AB/DLs decreased with increasing age of onset. This might be due to a shift in influence from biological to cultural influences. For example, a number of previously non-AB/DL women were introduced to AB/DL activities by male AB/DLs. Another cultural factor, expressed in the dragon-princess myth, places more of a barrier to regression for men than for women. These influences may have given rise to a new group, which spanned the gap between AB/DL interests to what might be called non-AB/DL ageplay. It was characterized by a later onset and less importance placed on diapers. This group was largely female. It is unknown whether the compatibility with cultural norms increases or decreases the number of women who report being AB/DLs overall.

The data presented here suggests a cultural difference, most clear in late onset. An expected biological difference, that would have been most clear in early onset, was not shown. Contrasting male and female AB/DLs has offered some new insights, not only on how the two differ, but also on some of the influences of biology and culture.

Sections: Method - Results and Discussion - Conclusion and Limitations

Edit 19 Jan 2017: Because of the more conservative significance testing implemented as part of the tenth year standards update, trends in onset type vs. meeting criterion B and CSB plot distribution were no longer significant. The associated figures and discussion were cut, or in the case of onset type, replaced with one that did not highlight insignificant differences. Those updates also involved re-including and re-filtering probable duplicates, which changed the number of AB/DL women who reported preferring caregiver roles from zero to one. Sections were changed and text moved to match APA guidelines, and some text was edited to be less wordy. A figure on the distribution of sex was replaced with a table to present more information. In Figure 4, the stacking order was flipped to avoid unclear error bars. A paragraph on limitations was added. Erratum : Later checking found that some Χ2 calculations used an incorrectly high number of degrees of freedom, underestimating their significance. These have been corrected.

Like all paraphilias, infantilism is a predominantly male condition. The American Psychiatric Association places the sex ratio for masochism (which includes paraphilic infantilism) at twenty to one, expects that fetishism (presumably including diaper fetishism) would "almost never" be seen in women (APA, 2000). The analysis presented here explores some of the similarities and differences between male and female AB/DLs.


This study used data from the first of the AB/DL survey series, as previously detailed by the author (Grey, 2006). The 38-question online survey was composed and posted to the Internet at the author's website, understanding.infantilism.org. The questions briefly explored interests, practices, and backgrounds of AB/DLs. The survey was announced to a number of email and web-based AB/DL communities. Participation was voluntary and anonymous.

A total of 1489 responses were received for this survey, excluding responses from minors and probable duplicates. Of these, 1323 completed all the relevant questions1. The questions relevant to this paper are self-identification on the AB-to-DL range (S1Q4); sex (S1Q5); orientation (S1Q7); the importance of aspects feeling/sound/smell (S1Q8), sex (S1Q9), control (S1Q10), babyhood (S1Q11), and convenience (S1Q12); onset type (S1Q14) and onset age (S1Q15); distress (S1Q19) and impairment (S1Q20); fantasy role (S1Q25); and importance of the right diaper (S1Q27). To avoid averaging across dissimilar groups, the following analysis will focus on contrasting non-transgendered male AB/DLs and non-transgendered female AB/DLs, except for Figure 1 (which includes non-transgendered, non-AB/DLs) and Table 1 (which includes transgendered AB/DLs). The AB-to-DL distribution of non-transgendered men (N=1113) and women (N=110), including non-AB/DLs, is shown in Figure 1. Excluding non-AB/DLs leaves 1049 non-transgendered men and 98 non-transgendered women 1. The distribution of the sex and gender of AB/DLs is shown in Table 1.

Figure 1: Adult Baby (AB) to Diaper Lover (DL) self-identification of non-transgendered male and female AB/DLs.
Figure 1: Adult Baby (AB) to Diaper Lover (DL) self-identification of non-transgendered male and female AB/DLs., based on S1Q4 and S1Q5. Percentages are of either male or female AB/DL population. Vertical lines show the standard error.

Table 1
AB/DL Sex and Gender
   %        n
Male 84.7% 1049
Female 7.9% 98
Male Transvestite (dresses as an adult woman) 3.8% 47
Male to Female Transsexual 2.8% 35
Female Transvestite (dresses as an adult man) 0.2% 2
Female to Male Transsexual 0.2% 3
Other 0.3% 4

Results and Discussion

As expected, the majority of AB/DLs were male. Except for those who reported being male transvestites or male-to-female transsexuals, they would then not have an interest in dressing as or becoming a woman. However, some of them might like to be or be treated as a baby girl only as part of AB/DL roleplay.

The data plotted in Figure 1 shows that the AB-to-DL distribution for women differs from that of men, even after binning the two non-AB/DL options to avoid a category size of zero, Χ2(6)=38.97, p<.001. Unlike the data plotted elsewhere in this article, Figure 1 includes data from non-AB/DLs. Not enough non-AB/DLs responded to the survey to make any concrete statements. However, it might be notable that very few (0.2%, n=2) non-transgendered males reported being non-AB/DL ageplayers. The data for females and transgendered males was drawn from much smaller samples, but each included responses from non-AB/DL ageplayers. Post hoc analysis using the Benjamini-Hochberg procedure showed that the result for non-AB/DLs was individually significant, relative to other groups, Χ2(1)=29.09, p<.001. This contrast was in spite of the binning on non-AB/DLs: Of the nine non-transgendered participants who self-identified as non-AB/DL ageplayers, seven were female. In contrast, all five non-transgendered participants who self-identified as non-AB/DL BDSM enthusiasts were non-transgendered males. Other contrasts might have been significant if the sample size was larger. In contrast to masochism, infantilism, and fetishism, ageplay is not defined by the American Psychiatric Association for diagnosis. It might exist only as an interest, not as a paraphilia.

The Onset of Interests Among Female AB/DLs

Paraphilic infantilism is defined as both an interest and a significance. Distinguishing between those with the conditions of paraphilic infantilism or diaper fetishism from those who are simply interested in diapers and/or babyhood is difficult. The American Psychiatric Association uses a guideline called "Criterion B," clinically significant distress or impairment. A minority of women AB/DLs, 35% (34) reported distress or impairment, and so might meet Criterion B, but this did not differ significantly from male AB/DLs, 42% (437), Χ2(1)=1.80, p=.18. For women, meeting Criterion B did not vary significantly with their reported onset type, with the Added and None options binned, although this might be due to sample size, Χ2(5)=1.40, p=.9.

However, the onset type reported by female AB/DLs differed from those reported by male AB/DLs (also with Added and None options binned, Χ2[5]=14.93, p=.01). The distribution of onset types is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 - Onset Types for Female AB/DLs.
Figure 2, Onset Types for Female AB/DLs. The bars show the percent of non-transgendered male or non-transgendered female AB/DLs reporting each onset type, based on S1Q14. AB/DLs might recall their interests as previously present, as if Always there, but noticed at some age that others do not share their interest. Others trace their interests back to a particular Event that happened; or a particular time (or Date), not associated with an event. Others remember having Practiced their urges at some time. These four groups would typically have felt an urge to get diapers or be a baby. A contrasting group were In diapers already, but at some time, started viewing them as more than a necessity. Others Added diapers or babyhood to their existing ageplay, BDSM, fetish, etc., interests. Finally, others report never having had an interest in diapers or babyhood (None) yet identify as AB/DLs. Vertical lines show the standard error.

One woman wrote of a particularly female onset progression. "I was wearing diapers for bedwetting until I was 9 1/2 . At that time I hated them. When I was 13 I was babysitting for a family in our neighborhood. One evening I got my menstrual flow and had no tampons, nor could I find any. So I took a diaper. [I] just wanted to put them in my slip, but to my big surprise I still [fit in] them. [The feeling] was very strange in the beginning: somehow guilty, but snugly and secure as well. So I did it again. And again. " This progression was characteristically feminine in two ways. First, because it involved menstruation. Second, it mentions being the caregiver, as opposed to being the one receiving care or watching, as more typical of the accounts of male AB/DLs.

A minority of responses mentioned abuse as the event that caused their desires, but did not give details. Other responses described traumatic, but non-abusive events. Another woman wrote of when she was 13 "My mother and I took my younger sister to her gymnastics class and then proceeded to take a walk together while the class went on. But I wasn't feeling well and ended up having an accident (a #2, if it matters) in my pants. My mother was very good about helping me clean up. Soon afterwards, it became this escalating fantasy of mine to be in that situation again, almost like I was getting babied my mom."

Figure 3 - A bar chart of the earliest age associated with AB/DL  desires for male and female AB/DLs, excluding transgendered AB/DLs.
Figure 3, Onset Ages for Female AB/DLs1. This figure shows the percentage of non-transgendered male or non-transgendered female AB/DLs reporting specific onset ages, in years, based on, based on S1Q15. Standard error bars are not shown, and the curve for Female AB/DLs is of highly limited significance: The mode at 5 years of age represents only 14 individuals.

The reported onset ages are plotted in Figure 3. The average age of onset reported by female AB/DLs, with a mean of 13.5 years and a standard deviation of 9.9 years, was significantly different from that of male AB/DLs, who reported a mean of 10.1 years and a standard deviation of 6.7 years, t(1147)=3.38, p<.001 1. The 90th percentile for women was 29 years, and 16 years for men. Since potty training and other milestones are achieved earlier by girls earlier than boys (e.g. Blum, Taubman, & Nemeth, 2003; Schum et. al., 2002), this later average age of onset is notable. However, the similarity in the features of Figure 3 suggest commonalities between the types of AB/DLs present in boys and girls. As more clearly shown in Figure 4, female AB/DLs have a higher proportion with late-onset. This is consistent with the higher average age of onset, without a shift in the features of Figure 3 towards older ages. (If there was only one type of etiology, which occurred later for women than for men, then the features of the curve would be expected to be later as well.)

Edit 14 Feb 2017: Given the number of women and the spacing of their reported onset ages, the percentile results are sensitive to the definition used. These results are for the individual who, when ordered by onset age and counting from one, is closest to 90% of the group size. For AB/DL women, the 90th percentile fell between two other individuals who reported 26 and 30 years.

The peak at five years of age might be due to the start of schooling: U.S. children typically leave home for Kindergarten at this age. This change in setting, away from home and mommy, is the second major step away from infancy, after potty training. A participant conveyed a boyhood experience of when he was 5, writing "I had an accident in kindergarten and since it was attached to a daycare they diapered me while clothes were being washed.. [I] never forgot the comfort feeling of that and it spread from there." Another participant wrote "I messed in my pants when I was in Kindergarten. I was 5 years old at the time. Many kids in the neighborhood found out about it and I was teased for many, many years to come. " Additionally, kindergarten would be a landmark that could be used to date early childhood recollections. A boy of 5 reported that his first memory was "kindergarten and thinking about diapers."

The cause of the peak at twelve years of age is less clear. Children in the U.S typically leave primary school either for middle school at age eleven or junior high at age twelve. The peaks at eight, ten, and twelve suggest a tendency to round recalled ages to even numbers. Puberty is another possible explanation for the peak around twelve years of age. Breasts develop in girls from 11 to 16 years of age, while genitalia develop in boys from 10 to 16 (Sun et. al., 2002).

For girls, puberty would have at least one relevant effect. At age twelve, the average girl will start to menstruate and need to wear an absorbent product to control it (Anderson, Dallal, & Must, 2003). There is a tendency to associate menstrual pads with diapers, which tampon companies such as Tampax® have tried to use in their favor (e.g. Finley, 2008). However, this would only affect girls. It doesn't explain why boys also have a peak at age twelve.

While it might be due simply to rounding to even numbers, the valley at age nine is interesting. It would be included in the latency stage described by Freud, but this stage would then also include the peaks at eight and ten as well. Some of the responses described a period of inactivity. "My cousin, who was only 1 month younger, and I used to sneak my baby brother's diapers and wear them. We did this a lot. The interest was always there for years after, but I did not start again until I was about 13, when I finally had a [little] money now and then from my paper route." The man, who was twenty four when he completed the survey, remembered childhood games from when he was five. A similar participant might only have remembered his later activities, and would have entered the later age.

After age twelve, the incidence decreases. The decreasing incidence with increasing age is not surprising. Attempts to experimentally induce fetishes in adults have been largely unsuccessful (Hoffmann, Janssen, & Turner, 2004; Rachman & Hodgson, 1968). This might be due to a "critical period" or a "sensitive period" limiting the development of paraphilias. A well-studied critical period exists for language in many animals. Zebra finches, an easily studied example, only develop their songs from approximately day 20 to day 35 (Shonkoff, 2000). In humans, language skills are able to recover from damage up to ages five or six, when the development of new of synapses in the receptive language area stops. This is the biologic explanation for the anecdotal notion of a "native" accent, effortlessly acquired in youth, but learned later only with difficulty. Other regions of the human brain develop new synapses later into life. The prefrontal cortex, for example, stops developing new synapses at around 15 or 16 years of age (Shonkoff, 2000). The similarity in ages of maturation of the prefrontal cortex and the declining rate of onset reported by AB/DLs might also be coincidental. Paraphilias could be driven by one or more other regions of the brain. If present, this "critical period" would define a biologic window, constraining when native paraphilias can develop.

This critical period would explain the popular notion of "impressionable youth" but would also force open sexual discussion early. The plasticity of the developing mind would make it vulnerable, but also repairable. While paraphilias are often thought to have severe and traumatic causes, the events described in the survey responses do not support this. One of the mysteries of early-onset cases is the contrast between the effortless, accidental onset of desires and the extreme difficulty in overcoming those desires later in life. A biologic window of plasticity, a critical period, might explain this contrast.

Of course, this is not the only possible explanation for this onset window. There also may be predisposing factors that makes one tend to develop an interest in diapers or babyhood. These factors, tied with a moderate and variable probability of developing paraphilias, could result in an onset window. However, a number of assumptions and approximations would need to be made along the way.

Figure 4 - A bar chart of the earliest age associated with AB/DL  desires for male and female AB/DLs, excluding transgendered AB/DLs, binned into early, teen, and late onset, with importance of the right diaper indicated.
Figure 4, Binned Onset Ages for Female AB/DLs. This figure shows the percentage of non-transgendered male or non-transgendered female AB/DLs reporting specific onset ages, in years, binned into early, teen, and late onset, based on S1Q15. The importance of the right diaper is also indicated, based on S1Q27. Vertical lines show the standard error.

Much of the random and numeric scatter in Figure 3 can be eliminated by not dividing the data as finely. Using three age groups, early onset (0-9 years), teen onset (10-19 years), and late onset (20+) gives Figure 4. The largest contrast is in late onset, which includes 6% (62) of male AB/DLs and 18% (18) of female AB/DLs.

A minority of AB/DLs have particularly late ages of onset. Typically, they would describe exposure to AB/DL material in magazines or on the internet, or more rarely, adult diapers as the cause of their interests. This type of AB/DL also exists among women, with one key difference: Due to the male-dominated sex ratio, male AB/DLs generally do not have the option of finding female AB/DL spouses. They typically need to find non-AB/DL spouses that are willing to accommodate their interests.

"My mate is a DL" one woman wrote. "He had expressed to me that diapers made him sexually aroused. I decided to 'pad up,' to fulfill his fantasy." She was 26 at the time, and considers this event as the start of her involvement diapers. While an AB/DL, she is clearly without an inherent paraphilic infantilism or diaper fetishism. She would be wearing a diaper for her spouse, as opposed to any innate condition of her own.

Similarly, a non-AB/DL ageplayer wrote "my now-daddy explained that it was okay to be a little girl and to have a daddy. He created a monster." She was 28. AB/DLs might be distinguished from non-AB/DL ageplayers by an interest in diapers or babyhood.

The bars on Figure 4 are divided by the importance of the right diaper. As shown, the majority of male AB/DLs consider diapers a critical part of AB/DL games, scenes, and fantasies. For AB/DLs who considered the right diaper critical, the proportion of binned onset ages did vary significantly between men and women, Χ2(2)=5.91, p=.05. However, the contrast of AB/DLs who did not consider the right diaper critical was more dramatic (the proportion of binned onset ages between men and women, Χ2[2]=21.53, p<.001).

The Dragon-Princess Tale

One reason why there might be a strong division between AB/DL and non-AB/DL males, but not between AB/DL and non-AB/DL females, might be cultural. A staple of Western culture is the princess-dragon tale: A princess is rescued by a knight from a dragon. More modern variations might include cowboys, damsels, and villains, etc. The constant is that he does the rescuing, and she is there to be rescued. The boys are expected to associate with the knight, the mature hero. The girls are expected to associate with the princess, the innocent victim.

The dragon-princess myth raises a conflict in the boys who hear it. While boys are told that it is their job to come to the female's aid, when they need assistance it is often a woman on which they must rely. Nurses, teachers, babysitters, and daycare workers are typically women.

Paraphilic infantilism doesn't stop AB/DL boys from being capable or heroic, but it does complicate their self-image. Very few heroes in this culture or others wear diapers. Men seeking to buy footed sleepers at their local department store will be reminded of the cultural disparity: They would need to look in the women's department, not far from the "baby doll" nighties.

Girls and women do not suffer this conflict. Diapers complicate neither innocence nor youth: Babies get rescued all the time. Women who develop an interested in princesshood, without an interest in diapers, might not be considered unusual. Depending on how this interest is expressed, they might be categorized as non-AB/DL ageplayers.

There is a sharp distinction between male ABs and what Western culture tells men that they should be. However, this distinction is not as sharp for women. This cultural contrast is sometimes used to explain why there are so many more male AB/DLs than female AB/DLs. The assertion is that girls claim a more mainstream role of princess as an alternative to the less acceptable role of baby. As a result, there are be fewer female AB/DLs then there otherwise would be. The magnitude of this effect is debatable. All paraphilias are rare among women (APA, 2000). Females are arguably more common in paraphilic infantilism than in other paraphilias. This relative prevalence might be due to an opposing effect: The lack of a strong distinction might make women more likely to try AB/DL activities.


The importance of the various aspects of AB/DL games, scenes, and fantasies (feeling, smell, and sound of diapers; sex; control; babyhood; and the convenience of diapers) did not vary significantly between AB/DL men and women Χ2(4)=8.13, p=.09. However, the role that is preferred in fantasy did differ significantly between AB/DL men and women (with older non-caregiver, caregiver, and no role preference answers each binned, Χ2[5]=14.48, p=.02). Post hoc analysis showed that only one role was individually significantly different, possibly due to a limited sample size (Newborn/young baby, Χ2[1]=7.44, p=.006)1. The distribution of these roles is shown in Figure 5. Only one AB/DL woman reported preferring a sitter, nurse, teacher, or unrelated caregiver role. None reported preferring the role of mommy.

Figure 5 - The percentage of male and female AB/DLs by their reported preferring specific roles in ageplay-related fantasies.
Figure 5, Fantasy Roles of Female AB/DLs. The percentage of male or female AB/DLs by their reported preferring specific roles in ageplay-related fantasies, based on S1Q25. (*) Non-caregiver teen or adult, Caregiver, and No role preference or no role play are each the sum of two options. Vertical lines show the standard error.

Conclusions and Limitations

Like all paraphilias, infantilism is a predominantly male condition. The intent of this analysis was partially to develop an understanding of the differences between how boys and girls experience infantilism. The results suggest similarities in early onset cases and differences in late onset cases.

A histogram of the age of onset showed similar features for both boys and girls. This is notable, since potty training and other key milestones tended to occur earlier in girls than boys. More notable still is that incidence for both dropped off between thirteen to sixteen years of age. The majority of AB/DLs had onsets before these ages. The earlier cases were also more likely to be clinically significant. This might be due to a biologic window, a critical stage, after which native paraphilias are much less likely to form or surface. However, there are other interpretations.

In contrast to the similarity of early onset cases, the late onset cases of men and women are dramatically different. The 90th percentile age for onset was 16 for boys and 29 for girls. The focuses of the interests also differed: Unlike AB/DL men and AB/DL women with early onset ages, AB/DL women with late onset ages were not likely to consider diapers to be critical.

This difference might be due to the presence of one specifically feminine group. This group placed a lower importance on diapers and had a later age of onset. It spanned the gap between AB/DL and non-AB/DL ageplayer. Cultural factors, such as the gender values expressed in the dragon-princess tale, were proposed as a possible explanation of this additional group. The princess archetype provides a more mainstream expression of a desire to regress. Those of this additional group might be grouped as either AB/DLs or as non-AB/DL ageplayers. This group might also be a result of the sex ratio of AB/DLs, with largely male AB/DLs introducing their largely female spouses to AB/DL activities.

A cultural difference, most clear in late onset, was apparent. An expected biological difference, which would be most clear in early onset, was not. While more research is clearly needed, these insights bring us one step closer to understanding paraphilic infantilism and diaper fetishism.

In hindsight, this analysis was limited in that it mostly treated sex as a binary. It described primary (mostly male) and secondary (mostly male's girlfriends) etiologies, but couldn't explore whether the women with the primary type were mostly masculine in specific ways. Future studies should consider exploring sex as a spectrum, although this might be difficult given how few responses this survey received from transgendered females. Additionally, the survey was voluntary and subject to participation bias. Specifically, as a survey directed at AB/DLs, ageplayers and others with related interests were largely unrepresented.

Erratum 14 Feb 2017: For two months, these results mistakenly included some participants who left S1Q15 (onset age) blank. Values shown for them were due to a software bug. Correcting this error changed the sample size from 1360 to 1323, including non-AB/DLs. The effects of this were most clear in Figure 3, which plotted onset age. After correction, 2% of AB/DL women reported an onset age of 3 yrs, instead of 5%. The average onset ages also changed slightly: From M 13.2 SD 9.8 to M 13.5 SD 9.9 for AB/DL women, and from M 9.9 SD 6.8 to M 10.1 SD 6.7 for AB/DL men. No ad hoc contrasts became or ceased to be significant. Two post hoc contrasts became statistically significant, including the event onset type (see Figure 1, Χ2[1]=6.23, p=.013 when .014 or less was required) and the role of newborn/young baby (see Figure 5, Χ2[1]=7.44, p=.006 when .008 or less was required). Other values changed slightly (1% of the population or less after rounding).

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[icon] Books and Other References:
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