As college students on the cusp of adulthood, childhood seems like a blissful stage in our development: nap time, adults to take care of our every need and one-page homework assignments. The simple desire to be cared for translates easily into kink, and when conflated with role play, becomes a kinky activity called “age play.”

Age play is a sexual or nonsexual type of roleplaying in which partners treat one another as if they were different ages. Kinksters might portray a wide range of ages, from babies to the elderly, by using props and changing their behavior.

Age play can mean a wide variety of roles, from a 2-year-old playing with blocks to a teenager sneaking out of the house and being caught by the cops, to an infant in diapers being changed by their “mommy.”

Hump day: Cunning advice for cunnilingusMouths are truly amazing — not only can tongues taste, but lips boast some of the most sensitive tissue on Read…

As with any other sexual activity, only consenting adults should participate in age play after negotiating boundaries and discussing the nuances of a scene. Bringing up a kink such as age play might feel intimidating, since so many taboos and ideas about “perversion” are attached to the concept.

Never simply jump into baby talk in the bedroom or suggest this activity in the middle of sex. Bring up age play in a neutral space, explain why it sounds hot, and remain positive about the interest.

Suggesting kinks as if they are weird or embarrassing will make partners feel weird or embarrassed. Instead, frame age play as a fresh, new adventure to try out together, and conduct extensive research before buying those adult diapers.

Importantly, psychologists do not consider age play related to pedophilia; like other decent human beings, individuals engaged in role play find child abuse despicable. Children have nothing to do with age play — it’s all about playing pretend.

In fact, some participants may engage in role play to reclaim an abusive experience and connect it to pleasure rather than trauma. On the other hand, survivors of childhood trauma might also find this particular kink triggering, and this is important to consider when engaging in age play.

Decide on a safe word beforehand, so if someone needs to escape the scene they can use it, stop activity immediately and begin after care.

Hump Day: Glow up with glow-in-the-dark condomsDespite STI prevention and birth control campaigns’ tireless efforts to frame condoms as fun and exciting, most people do not Read…

Doing it in Diapers

People participate in age play for a wide range of reasons. Maybe they spend all day in charge of others at their job and want to come home and let their lover make all the decisions. Maybe they find humiliation or belittling treatment arousing. Maybe they want to regress back to a simpler time and be cared for by someone else, or explore a role they never had the chance to experience.

Maybe they want to relive an experience from their youth, such as having sex for the first time, or perhaps they just really enjoy dressing up and acting like a little kid or angry parent. Maybe spanking and discipline appeal to them. Perhaps the sensation of diapers, thumb-sucking or dragging a blankie around seems appealing.

Most folks interested in age play enjoy exploring the power dynamic often present in kinky activities, and age play offers a clearly defined exchange of power between a dominant “older” partner and a submissive “younger” partner.

Diaper play is closely related with “watersports,” a fetish for urine that draws on aspects of humiliation and arousal. Feeling helpless might not be pleasant in uncontrolled situations, but in a pre-negotiated kinky scene it can be incredibly satisfying to let go of these inhibitions.

Hump Day: Why scheduling sex doesn’t have to kill spontaneityAs the semester heats up and schedules become crowded with class, work and whatever other nonsense, intimacy may seem like Read…

Daddy’s girl

Though “daddy” has entered vocabulary as a colloquial term for an older or more powerful significant other, this term also refers to a more specific age play fetish. Partners engaging in daddy/little relationships designate one partner as the disciplinarian and caregiver (or “daddy”), while the other plays a younger, more vulnerable submissive role (the “little”).

Though this dynamic is often depicted as heterosexual, all types of relationships participate in parent/little roleplay. Some daddy/little partners set aside a specific time to play, while others engage in this power difference during all aspects of their relationship — often referred to as a “24/7” relationship in the kink community.

Littles often enjoy the sensation of innocence and simplicity that accompanies a daddy/little dynamic, embracing a childlike sense of wonder that elicits intimacy and comfort. Littles might enjoy primping themselves for “daddy,” wearing pink bows, pigtails and other childlike props.

Of course, many of these activities might squick some folks out—“squick” meaning that an activity makes us go “ick,” but we support the freedom of consenting adults to make those well-informed and risk-aware choices. A sex-positive perspective on age play means while we might not choose to don the adult diapers, we respect others’ decisions to do so.