For the dad who’s taking care of a little boy, you might think the rules are different than caring for an adult baby or toddler. But I personally still stick to a few personal rules: create a space of trust and safety, be creative, and act in recognition that your little guy is giving you a gift and that he deserves to be treated from a sense of joy that he’s done so.
Someone recently introduced me to the acronym “LB” to add to Adult Baby (AB) and Diaper Lover (DL). I kind of like the distinction – the phrase “little boy” conjures up a slightly different sense of the responsibilities, activities and care that a daddy will need to provide.
(On the other hand, it doesn’t stand on its own to differentiate the ‘adult’ part of being an LB so I’m left a bit stuck for the perfect term! The word “littles” has other connotations that I’ll explore in another post maybe).
But let’s face it – they’re just superficial terms that mask something deeper and more important: you’re caring for a boy who may look to the world like an adult, but whose spirit and emotions hold deep expressions of being a baby, a toddler or a 9 year-old – sometimes all in one week!
The wonderful part of the “A” in “adult baby” is that he may have a spectrum of feelings and behaviors, although the fact that’s he’s a little guy inside never leaves, it just shifts, changes and takes on new textures and responses. While I find that most boys respond to one particular range of ages (say, 12 – 24 months, or 9 – 11 years) there are a few who might experience a broader set of feelings, or you may see shifts over time.
On this blog, I typically use the term ‘adult baby’ not to denote age, but to denote a boy’s need for care and, importantly, his need for diapers. There’s lots more that can be written about other ages or scenarios, but I’ve found that as a daddy I’m best suited to caring for a little guy who still needs his diapers, and have discovered that regardless of his age this can create a very special bond between a daddy and son.
Diapers, Trainers and Little Boys
When it comes to little boys, they still need diapers, and almost always need diapers at night to deal with wet beds. But there can be a different dynamic with “little boys” as potty training enters the picture.
Now – for you little ones out there, don’t panic! I’m personally of the belief that most boys never outgrow their need for diapers and that, in fact, the world would be a happier place if toilet training never entered the picture.
But some boys have seen one too many of those awful videos or somehow got their hands on one of those children’s books about how Elmo potty trained (what is Sesame Street THINKING?) And so there might be an attempt at potty training. There’s nothing wrong with that – more often than not it’s what dads call a ‘teaching moment’, and in this case it will be a chance to show a little boy that he should still be in diapers.
Use the teaching moment wisely. Remember that your little boy is trying his hardest to make daddy proud. But remember that he’s still a little boy! And he’ll be reminded of this because of the upside to potty training: there’s some really cute stuff out there to help! Grab a potty training calendar and put it on your fridge, for example!
And for boys who are trying to use the potty, there’s a whole range of options for daddy to deal with potential accidents: cloth trainers, Tiger Underwear training pants, Pull-Ups or Goodnites are some examples. Most have cute patterns and designs and your little boy will remember that he’s still daddy’s little boy every time he lowers them (if he makes it) to use the potty.
The Life of a Little Boy
Now, I won’t list out all of the activities here, but the other difference in caring for a little boy as compared to a toddler or baby is that you have a different range of activities and things that will interest him.
He’ll enjoy a bog box of more complicated toys (Transformers, Legos), will love a trip to the Planetarium or museum (to see the dinosaurs, anyways), and will get giddy when he sees a roller coaster or anything that twirls and whirls at the amusement park.
By this time, he may have graduated to a ‘big bed’ from a nursery, and he’ll often be happy spending hours in his room which will be decorated with bright posters. His bed will usually have sheets and comforters of his favorite cartoon character, or images of rockets, stars and moons.
Structure will be increasingly important, and a dad might find it harder to maintain that structure as his sense of independence and mischief starts to grow. If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I’m not a big believer in discipline or anything that causes pain, but a few firm words or an earlier bed time usually keeps him on track.
More important, however, is that a little boy usually acts out because he has the joyous energy of his age or he’s simply looking for his daddy’s attention.
And that’s critical – because no matter how ‘old’ your little boy is, he’s never too old for daddy to listen to his stories, hug him and snuggle him, and to tuck him in lovingly at night. Because he may be a little boy, but he’s still daddy’s baby.