A while back I wrote a guide on diaper- and diaper fetish-related acronyms for this blog.

It covered all the traditional terminology: AB, DL, TB, and so on.

But there’s a newer term that’s been gaining a lot of traction in the last three or four years, especially on social media sites and on Tumblr in particular. Welcome to the rise of “The Little!”

What is a Little?

“Little” is a catch-all term that people have begun to use for all forms of ageplay wherein a participant acts “littler” than his or her actual age.

The term evolved as a broader alternative to “adult baby,” which specifically implies infantile behavior: regressed or no speech skills, crawling, clumsiness (especially messy eating), wearing and using diapers, etc.

“Little” has gained traction because it is a broader term, and because it avoids the words “adult” (which can have sexual connotations, as in “adult materials”) and “baby” (which can imply the fetishization of actual infants, a completely separate issue that ABs and littles want no association with).

Some littles consider ageplay part of their identity, and involve regressive behavior in their lifestyle. For others it is purely a recreational activity, kept separate from their daily lives.

What is Ageplay?

Ageplay is a type of behavior wherein an adult pretends to be an age that he or she is not, or adopts the mannerisms of a different age.

“Littles” — people acting younger than their age — are the most widely-recognized ageplayer subgroup out there, but other forms of ageplay include middle-aged or older adults pretending to be “barely legal teens,” younger adults playing “horny grandma/horny grandpa,” and so on.

Ageplay is sometimes, but not always, fetishized and used in a sexual context. Some ageplayers will make their fantasies explicitly sexual, while others strive for a very realistic and non-sexualized portrayal of their chosen “age.”

Some websites inaccurately use “ageplay” as a misleading cover for depictions of sex with underage children. The two shouldĀ not be confused, and that misuse is highly irresponsible. Adult ageplayers are not people with a sexual interest in children; they are adults with an interest in behaving childishly themselves (or with an interest in playing with other adults doing so).

What’s the Difference Between Littles and Adult Babies?

“Littles” participate in a wider range of behaviors and mindsets than adult babies.

Some littles identify as infants, and indulge in babyish behavior, while others prefer to take the role of a toddler, a young child, or even a pre-teen or teenager.

Play styles vary widely. Many littles pick a specific mental age or age range that they identify with. Others explore a range of behaviors running the gamut from infantile to adult.

In other words, adult babies are a specific type of little, and many littles will sometimes act as adult babies but at other times adopt a different set of mannerisms.

How Do Littles “Regress” and Behave?

There is no one fixed way to be a little.

Most will indulge in their behaviors in a compartmented way, often with the help of a partner who provides verbal cues. For example, a little might come home from work and tell his/her partner something along the lines of “I think I need to be Little Charlie for a while,” or “Can baby come out and play?”

At that point the little will settle into the ageplay mindset, altering his or her behavior to fit the desired mental state. Common types of play include reading childish books or watching childish movies, wearing childish clothes, snuggling with “grown-up” partners, or “misbehaving” in childish ways (spilling food, drawing on walls, wetting pants, etc.).

Similar cues can end the play: a partner might say “It’s time for the potluck at Mike’s house, so you need to be a big girl again — do you think you can handle using the potty like a grown-up at the party, or should we keep you in pull-ups to be safe?”

All of those are very typical “little” dialogues that help move between adult and childish mental states. Not everyone uses them, and the activities during the ageplay can vary widely, but the examples here should give you a general idea how most people approach being “little.”

Do Littles Regress in Public?

It’s far less common than private play, but yes, there are some littles who adopt a “lifestyle” role, and continue to behave childishly in public.

You’re not likely to see littles running around on a daily basis. (I’ve only seen one person who looked like a little out in public, personally, and for all I know she was a non-little who’d just bought into the Japanese lolita fashion — frilly skirts, white stockings, fuzzy teddy bear purse, etc.)

This can be a somewhat dubious area for littles who play sexually. It’s not appropriate to involve the public in your fetish, and exhibitionist displays of diapers or too-short baby clothing are bordering on consent issues, especially if you’re exposing your crotch. There are also practical issues — whether you identify as an eight year old or not, a thirty year old body can’t join in play at a public playground without causing concern.

But for lifestyle littles who simply feel most comfortable behaving as a child, a limited amount of public regression is an option.

Are Littles Diaper Lovers?

Some are, some aren’t.

Diapers are a common prop, but not a mandatory one, and how they’re used can vary widely.

Some littles may be enthusiastically diapered, actively refusing “potty training” or to use toilets at all. Others might play the role of a child struggling with potty training, for whom wetting and “accidents” are embarrassing, and for whom being put back in diapers is a punishment or a failure.

It all depends on the individual and his or her partners. But there is certainly a strong association between littles and diapers, yes.

Got Questions About Littles?

Leave us a comment on this post — we’ll answer you in the comments, or update the post to include your question!