Your son will grow older one day. He’ll grow out of his shortalls and cuddly sleepers and before you know it he’s sleeping in a racing car bed and coming home with frogs in the pockets of his overalls.
Thankfully if you’re a daddy to an adult baby, there’s no such thing as “growing up” – he may act more like an 8 year old than a 1 year old, but he’s still your little boy.
And what’s even more amazing is that while this weekend he might be your little boy, it’s quite likely that he’s your baby again next week, and you’ll have him back in his crib, thick diaper crinkling securely, teddy hugged close to his chest.
Age is a Number
One of the things I’m reminded of because of adult babies is that age is just a number.
There’s no age limit to being a little boy inside: you might be 16 or 60, but if you are a baby at heart then that’s who you are, and daddy sees the bright spark, the creativity and vulnerability, no matter what the rest of the world might see.
There are no physical age limits to being an adult baby, and I don’t see a difference as a daddy: I see the little boy inside no matter what it says on your birth certificate.
But the same rule applies to someone’s “inner age”. For an AB, they may start with a certain feeling – of being a two year-old, say, or a newborn. But that also is just a number, and the reality is that most ABs will have a variety of feelings when it comes to expressing who they are.
Maybe they feel like they’re 6 months old when bedtime rolls around: they prefer a crib, thick night diapers, and cuddly snug clothing.
At other times, they’re like a little toddler, filled with a sense of adventure and exploration.
And often, it will depend on how daddy treats his little guy, how he dresses him, talks to him, and cares for him.
The key is that there’s no magic rule. You don’t need to discover the “perfect age”. All you need to do is help your ‘son’ discover all the amazing ways that he can express the special feelings he has inside.
You can label those feelings “baby”, “toddler” or “little boy” but the truth is they’re all variations on who he uniquely is and feels.
Taking Care of Little Boys
Now, a lot of ABs need a special kind of care and attention.
They don’t feel safe if they aren’t close to daddy and they feel anxious without guidance and care. They need you to change them, feed them, bathe them and put them in their crib at night.
These are important rituals that strengthen the bond between a daddy and his baby boy, regardless of the other adult things you might talk about or share (remembering that no matter how much he’s a baby boy, he’s still an ADULT baby).
But others will show more independence. They’re clearly more of a “little boy” (or LB).
But ironically, I think, the way that a daddy shows his care and love often includes more guidance and structure when it comes to caring for a little boy.
Put it this way: with an adult baby, daddy will make dinner and help to feed his little fellow. But when you’re caring for a little boy, you might find that he’s made supper on his own, but it consists entirely of gummy bears and chocolate milk.
So while an LB might be better able to do stuff on his own, daddy still needs to provide structure and guidance in a different but by no means lesser way.
The Emotional Landscape of the LB
But something to remember is the following: it can be very easy for a daddy to a little boy to think that he’s somehow more self-sufficient or less ‘needy’ than a baby boy. But I don’t think this is true, and believe that there’s a whole level of emotion and feeling that is really important not to ignore.
When an AB is expressing the little boy inside, that little boy is often expressing feelings, vulnerabilities, fears and dreams that are complex and intense. A daddy needs to recognize that an LB can be a bundle of energy, but deep inside he’s also just a little guy who needs his daddy’s care, protection, understanding and attention.
Your little guy may seem like a self-possessed little tyke, he may be out collecting frogs in the pond or making mud pies in the sandbox rather than playing with his toys in a nice safe playpen – but that doesn’t mean that at the end of the day he doesn’t need his daddy’s love, snuggles and attention just as much.
But let me ask: if you’re a “little boy”, or during those times when you’re caring for someone who is expressing that side of themselves, what’s the best way for daddy to show his love and care, and how can he provide the safety and guidance that his little guy needs? Any secrets for a daddy when he’s caring for a little boy?