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Girls, Boys, and Diapers

By B. Terrance Grey

Sections: Summary - Results and Discussion - Conclusion

Part of the Survey Project at Understanding.Infantilism.Org


Like all paraphilias, infantilism is a predominantly male condition. According to data from the AB, DL, Etc Survey, 86% of Adult Babies and Diaper Lovers (AB/DLs) are non-transgendered males, and 8% are non-transgendered females. The analysis presented here explores some of the similarities and differences between male and female 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 age ten. A histogram of the ages at which AB/DLs first noticed or acted upon their interest had roughly common features for both genders. Notably, both had peaks at five and twelve years of age. These might be due to external factors such as school, rounding, or coincidence. 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.

On average, female AB/DLs preferred younger roles in AB/DL games, scenes, and fantasies than males. A result that will be disappointing to male AB/DLs seeking a 'mommy' is that no female AB/DL reported a preference for the role of caregiver. That is, while they might be maternal, they would prefer to play the baby or toddler as opposed to the caregiver. Females tended to place a higher importance on babyhood than did males, and a lower importance on sexuality.

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, because of the sex ratio, 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 subtype. This subtype stretched between AB/DL to what might be called non-AB/DL ageplay. It was characterized by a later onset and lower or no importance placed on diapers. This sub-type was almost exclusively feminine. It is unknown whether the closer proximity to cultural norms increases or decreases the number of women who report being AB/DLs overall.

A cultural difference, most clear in late onset, was shown. 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.


A 38-question online survey was composed and posted to the internet at the author's website, understanding.infantilism.org. The questions briefly explored the interests, practices, and backgrounds of AB/DLs. The survey was announced to a number of email and web-based AB/DL communities. The following correlations only include responces that answered all of the questions involved in the correlation, and except for Figure #5, only those who reported being AB/DLs.

The responces were tabulated using a custom analysis program. This program, written in C, built question summaries and crosstabulations.

Results and Discussion

The distribution of sex and gender among AB/DLs is plotted in Figure #1. As expected, the majority of AB/DLs were male. 3% of AB/DLs reported being male transvestites, and another 2% reported being male-to-female transsexuals. The remaining males, 86%, 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. Females, excluding female transvestites and female-to-male transsexuals, made up 8%. Female transvestites, female-to-male transsexuals, and those who reported being "other" made up the remaining 1%.

Figure #1 - A pie chart showing the sex and gender distribution of adult babies and diaper lovers.

The roughly ten-to-one male to female ratio is actually higher than expected. The American Psychiatric Association places the sex ratio for masochism (which includes paraphilic infantilism) at twenty to one [1]. Fetishism (including diaper fetishism) would "almost never" be seen in women. That the ratios differ is not surprising. Remember that not all AB/DLs (defined by an interest in diapers and babyhood) have paraphilic infantilism or diaper fetishism (clinically significant conditions which drive a desire for diapers and/or babyhood).

Male transvestites and transsexuals might be the focus of later analysis.

The Onset of Interests Among Female AB/DLs

Paraphilic infantilism is defined 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. This is based on the expectation that if an AB/DL suffers for his or her interest, he or she would tend to try to give it up. Those that can't give it up would be unable to do so because of some condition driving their interests. The distress or impairment is used as an indicator of the condition. The drawback to Criterion B is that it doesn't include AB/DLs that might be as driven toward diapers and babyhood, but haven't suffered for it.

Figure #2 plots the reported type of onset for female AB/DLs that did and did not meet Criterion B. Some AB/DLs can't recall ever being without a desire for diapers and/or babyhood. They would have noticed at some age that others don't share their interest. (For short, they are grouped as 'always.') Others trace their interests back to a particular event that happened, or a point in time, not associated with an event. ('Event' or 'date', respectively.) Others remember acting on their urges at some time. ('Practiced.') These four groups would typically have felt an urge to get diapers or be a baby. The fifth onset group were in diapers already, but at some time, started viewing them as more than a necessity. ('In diapers.')

Figure #2 - a bar chart showing the percent of AB/DL men and women who reported preferences for the basic roles, ranging from newborn to caregiver.

Female AB/DLs that did not meet Criterion B were more likely to recall starting AB/DL practices but not recall the urges beforehand (19% vs 11%, p=.12). This category would include women who started engaging in AB/DL practices as a favor for their boyfriend. Female AB/DLs that did not meet Criterion B were also more likely to notice their interests starting at some point in their life, without associating the new desires with an event (21% vs 9%, p=.03).

One woman wrote of a uniquely 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 typical of males.

As the data plotted in Figure #2 shows, women who met Criterion B were more likely to associate their infantilism with an event (30% vs 14%, p=.01). A minority of responces mentioned abuse as the event that caused their desires, but did not give details. Other responces described traumatic, but non-abusive events. One woman wrote about when she was 11. "[I] started wetting the bed again shortly after my mother's funeral ...after a week I was put back into night time diapers and have remained there since." Trauma was absent from most of the events described. 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 ([soiling], 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."

The average age of onset reported by female AB/DLs was 13.1 years, with the 10th percentile at 4 and the 90th at 26. For males, the average was 9.8 years, with the 10th percentile at 4 and the 90th at 16. Since potty training and other milestones are achieved earlier by girls earlier than boys, this later average age of onset is notable [2][3]. 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, which occurred later for women than for men, then the features of the curve would be expected to be later as well.)

Figure #3: A histogram of the earliest age associated with AB/DL  desires for male and female AB/DLs, excluding transgendered AB/DLs.

The reported ages of onset are plotted in Figure # 3. This is the age at which AB/DLs first noticed or first acted upon an interest in diapers or babyhood. Plotting year-by-year divides the data finely. For example, the peak at age 5 for girls represents only 14 survey responces. .

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 boy of age 5 wrote "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 boy of 5 was more detailed about his peer's reaction. "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 more another possible explanation for the peak around twelve years of age. Breasts develop in girls starts at 11 and continues to 16, while genitalia develop in boys from 10 to 16. [4]

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[5]. 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.[6]. 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. While both men and women have valleys at nine years of age (4% and 0%), the valley for girls is significantly deeper (p=.01). 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 responces described a period of inactivity. "My cousin, who was only 1 month younger, and I used to sneak my baby brothers diapers and wear them. We did this a lot. The interest was always there for years after, but I didn't 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 surveyee might only have remembered his later activities, and would have entered the later age.

After age twelve, the incidence decreases. AB/DLs with later onsets are less likely to meet Criterion B. 49% of AB/DLs with ages of onset under ten met criterion B, 36% with onset from 10 to 19 (p < 001), and only 27% after 20 (p=.05, relative to 10-19 yrs.). That is, their interest in diapers or babyhood would either be without a condition driving the urge, or without the difficulties used to indicate the condition.

The decreasing incidence with increasing age is not surprising. Attempts to experimentally induce fetishes in adults have been largely unsuccessful [7][8]. 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.[9] 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 around 15 or 16[9]. 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 don't 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.

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 5% of male AB/DLs and 15% of female AB/DLs (p < .001).

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 don't 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. Generally, AB/DLs are distinguished from non-AB/DL ageplayers by an interest in diapers or babyhood.

The bars on Figure #4 are divided by the importance of diapers. As shown, the vast majority of male AB/DLs consider diapers a critical part of AB/DL games, scenes, and fantasies. This ranged from 93% for early onset to 90% for teen onset. In contrast, the percentage of Female AB/DLs that consider diapers critical drops dramatically, from 91% for early onset to 50% for late onset (p < .001).

The interest in diapers among some who report being non-AB/DL ageplayers and the lack of interest among some who report being AB/DLs shows that there is not an absolute division between the groups.

The Dragon-Princess Tale

One reason why there is 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 villians, 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 don't 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 that unusual. Depending on how this interest is expressed, they might be categorized as non-AB/DL ageplayers, or not categorized at all.

One woman wrote "I always loved childhood and made a firm decision to never fully grow up. I still play with toys, still have a blankie, still have a paci and so forth. But it's really only recently that the curiosity of diapers got to me and I decided to wear one for the first time last week. I love it."

There is a sharp distinction between male ABs and what Western culture tells that men should be. However, this distinction isn't as sharp in women. This cultural contrast is sometimes used to explain why there are so many more male AB/DLs than female AB/DLs. It is asserted 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[1]. Females are actually 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 data plotted in Figure #5 shows that female AB/DLs would tend to report being more AB on average than would a male AB/DL. For example, non-transgendered Females are more likely to report being 'AB' than non-transgendered males (17% vs 9%, p = .002).

Figure #5: Adult Baby (AB) to Diaper Lover (DL) self-identification of male and female AB/DLs.

Unlike the data plotted elsewhere in this article, Figure #5 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%) 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 responces from non-AB/DL ageplayers. 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.

Figure #6 - a bar chart of overrepresented and underrepresented interest nodes.

Previously, the distribution of the interests of all AB/DLs was plotted on the axes of control, sexuality, and babyhood[10]. The node size indicated the prevalence of each group. Adding the sex ratio to this plot would make it five-dimensional, and quite difficult to interpret. As an alternative, a reduced bar chart is presented in Figure #6. Of the twenty seven interest groups, only nine were significantly different between male and female non-transgendered AB/DLs. A 95% confidence interval was used, so one or two significantly different ratios would be expected.

The nodes are sorted so that those where women are most overrepresented are on the left, and most underrepresented on the right. Four of five significantly overrepresented groups viewed babyhood positively. One of these was C+S+B+ viewed being under control, sexuality, and babyhood positively. This was the mode for both male and females.

Two of the four underrepresented nodes, C-S+B- and C0S+B0, viewed sexuality positively but were neutral or negative about babyhood and control. The third underrepresented node, C-S0B-, neighbors the other two. The fourth underrepresented node, C0S0B0, views all three themes neutrally. Those that valued diapers without scenes or fantasy narratives would be included in this node.

The overrepresentation of women in C+S+B+ and the underrepresentation in C-S+B- is consistent with expectations. The corner of C+S+B+ matches the American Psychiatric Association's definition of paraphilic infantilism; and the corner C-S+B-, diaper fetishism.

Figure #7: Preferred roleplay role of male and female AB/DLs.

Many male AB/DLs seek out female AB/DLs to serve as mommies. According to the survey data plotted in Figure #7, they are in for a disappointment. No female AB/DLs reported preferring the role of caregiver.


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. It found a similarity 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 26 for girls. The focuses of the interests also differed. 9 of 10 boys and girls with an early onset considered diapers critical to AB/DL games, scenes, and fantasies. Similarly, 9 of 10 men with a late onset considered diapers critical. In contrast, only 5 of 10 women with a late onset considered diapers critical.

This difference might be due to the presence of one specifically feminine subtype. This subtype 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 type. The princess archetype provides a more mainstream expression of a desire to regress. Those of this additional subtype might be grouped as either AB/DLs or as non-AB/DL ageplayers. This subtype might also be a result of the sex ratio, as male AB/DLs introduce their spouses to AB/DL activities.

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

Email BitterGrey[mail] Last Update: 24 July 2008| First: 24 July 2008

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[icon] Books and Other References:
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