This is a fiercely debated topic among those within the communities and among those who become aware of it one way or another. There is no simple answer to the question, as each of us has their own unique view of what it means to us, and our experiences and reasons for engaging in these practices varies widely.
Beginning with the most literal definition, TB/AB/DL stands for Teen Babies, Adult Babies, and Diaper Lovers. And these terms indeed are quite literal. Teen babies and adult babies regress themselves mentally into a child or infant state, either alone or with the help of a partner. Diaper lovers find intense mental and physical pleasures in wearing diapers, or in seeing a partner wear diapers.
One of the clinical terms used to define it is ‘paraphilic infantilism’. However, this cold term is overly broad, and in many cases is entirely inaccurate. The term ‘paraphilic’ implies sexual deviation, which is not always the case. In fact, many AB’s are completely asexual, at least when engaged in ‘little space’. For many, infantilism is much more than a paraphilia, otherwise known as a fetish. On the other hand, for many others it is very much a paraphilia.
For those who may be reading this as a means to understand what they’re going through, or what a loved one is going through, please never mistake AB/DL for pedophilia. This is NOT pedophilia, and that misconception is harmful in many ways. Pedophilia is an entirely separate desire which is not only frowned upon within the AB/DL community, but often leads to intense confrontations. The vast majority of AB/DL practitioners harbor an intense enmity toward pedophiles, and will actively seek to degrade them or harm them in some fashion. We have no desires to be intimate with actual children, and many of us will fiercely defend children, even with our lives. While there may be a minuscule percentage of AB/DL’s who are also pedophiles, it is very rare and most in the community will never accept pedophiles among their groups. To mistake infantilism for pedophilia is not only wrong, but is grievously offensive to those of us who consider ourselves adult babies or diaper lovers.
Typically, those who engage in infantile behaviors as a sexual outlet are called DL’s, or Diaper Lovers. Though not true in every case, these individuals do see it as a fetish. However, many also find it to be comforting and relaxing in a profound way, and will therefore spend much of their free time in diapers. Not only does it provide them a means of comfort and relaxation, but for some it also provides mental stability; a buffer to help combat other issues that may vex them internally or even physically.
For AB’s, or Adult Babies, infantile behavior is far more than that. For many, it is a lifestyle. Many AB’s spend as much time as humanly possible engaged in ‘little space’. Regression to an infant-like state allows us to set aside all of our worries, responsibilities, anger and other negative emotions, and provides total relaxation. For some, it is a lifestyle that they will engage in twenty-four hours a day, if at all possible. Especially for those with understanding partners, it is a means of completely immersing in the carefree happiness of childhood. For AB’s, diapers are often simply a part of life, rather than a sexual object as they are for DL’s. A large percentage of AB’s prefer to be dressed in baby clothes, and many speak in their own styles of childish speech or ‘baby talk’. Many use pacifiers, drink from bottles, snuggle with stuffed animals, play with baby toys, draw and color with crayons, and will watch cartoons and animated movies with glee. In essence, adult babies are little more than oversized infants and young children.
In the case of teen babies, the pleasures of infantilism are all the more intense, as they are still experimenting and maturing mentally. The same is true of teen diaper lovers. For parents that discover their teen children engaged in baby play or wearing diapers, there may be feelings of shock or revulsion. But these practices are not harmful, and there should be little cause for concern unless the fantasies and practices interfere with the teen’s life otherwise. In fact, given the relaxing nature of infantilism in general, it could be used to the advantage of an astute parent, for the purposes of redirecting or focusing the attention of their teen baby in a positive direction. They may find their teen more willing to focus on school work as a baby, or much more capable of focusing on a single task in the interest of being rewarded for good behavior, the same as an actual infant or toddler. Attempts to ban teens from their infantile behaviors or diaper wearing are doomed to fail, and are likely to make the attraction even more intense.
The main difference between AB’s and DL’s is the regression. AB’s are often in a regressed state of mind, which is what makes them essentially children. DL’s usually do not regress. However, such definitions are not by any means static or all-encompassing. There are many individuals who are both AB and DL, combining infantile behaviors and paraphilia. For some, being a baby is the paraphilia, as opposed to the more direct aspect of diapers as a fetish. It is these such behaviors that lead psychologists and ‘experts’ on the matter to define AB and DL together as a single ‘condition’ called paraphilic infantilism, autonepiophilia, or adult baby syndrome. But again, these broad terms are insufficient if one is to describe an entire community of individuals who each have their own views and opinions about what the terms mean to them.
The real question is, what does it mean to you? Each of us makes our own definition based on our views and experience.
“To me, being a baby is what keeps me sane and happy. I love being in my baby outfits and playing with my toys, even in public. I wear diapers for medical need, and being a baby helps me feel better about that. It makes me feel better about all the things I’ve been through in my life. And it makes me so very happy that my wife adores me as her little girl. Being cared for and spoiled by her is my life’s single greatest joy. Nothing, not even sex, makes me feel more loved and wanted than the adoring look in her eyes when she plays with me, feeds me, changes me, bathes me, and holds me close to her in bed at night. Even if we never make love again, I’ll be perfectly happy being her baby for the rest of my life.” ~Angel McCarron
There are a number of other sources for information on the behaviors and practices of adult babies and diaper lovers. If you or a loved one are in need of such literature, it is readily available in the forms of books and online texts. Wikipedia features an article on the subject, and though it is somewhat vague and even inaccurate for some, it provides sources and further links to help in understanding. A simple Google search for “abdl” or “infantilism” will lend millions of results. And a number of books are available at Amazon and other online retailers. And of course, there is a nearly endless supply of information to be gained from active members of AB/DL communities, such as this one. Feel free to browse the forum and visit us in our chat room, and ask all the questions you need to help you better understand what you or your loved one are going through.
In addition to all of the preceding information, it is worth noting certain terminology related to the ABDL community. To begin with, the terms ‘Mommy’, ‘Mummy’, ‘Mama’ and so on, refer to an individual who assumes such a role for an adult baby, regardless of whether or not they are actually a mother. Similarly, the terms ‘Daddy’, ‘Dada’ and such are used in exactly the same manner. Furthermore, there are several terms defining the relationships of certain practitioners in the lifestyle, such as DDLG (Daddy Dom, Little Girl), MDLG (Mommy Dom, Little Girl), DDLB (Daddy Dom, Little Boy), and MDLB (Mommy Dom, Little Boy). In this sense, a ‘Dom’ or ‘Domme’ is simply the dominant, parental figure in the relationship, assuming all responsibility and ‘adulthood’, while their ‘baby’ or ‘little’ assumes the role of the child. The parental figure cares for the child, often in exactly the same manner as an actual parent cares for an actual baby or toddler. Some, but certainly not all, also engage in BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism) activities, which often coincides readily with the nature of many ABs. Again, there is no better source of information on these topics than active members of the community. Each relationship is unique, and only those engaged in them can provide a full explanation of what it is like to be them.