The terms bigs and littles are used in the BDSM community to describe a particular dynamic between two participants, with bigs sometimes called Daddys or Mommys instead.
What are Bigs/littles?
Big/little play is when one or both people embody a different biological age, with the big acting as the caretaker. A little’s age can range from newborn to about twelve, depending on the desire of the little and/or the big. Activities will correlate to the appropriate age, but can involve bathing, coloring, bed-time stories, cuddling, and so on. Bigs and littles can be any gender, race, sexual orientation, or age.
Big/little play can occur during scenes or as part of an ongoing relationship dynamic. Some littles may embody this relationship with their big without acting specifically like a child, in what is more of a spiritual big/little arrangement. For littles that do ageplay, the little will fully release the inner child and take on the attributes of that specific age.
People are drawn to big/little play for many reasons. For the big, it is an opportunity to be a strong presence in someone’s life, with the rewards and power that come with responsibility. For a little, it is a chance to revive one’s innocence, to see the world with wonder, and be free of the pressures of the world.
Little: someone who feels younger than they truly are and enjoys exploring this younger self. A little is typically a submissive in a BDSM dynamic, but may be a dominant or a switch outside of big/little play. Littles are treated more tenderly by their bigs than in other dom/sub arrangement. The focus is on nurturing the little, though rules are still put into place for the little’s behavior.
Big/caregiver: someone who cares for a little.
Daddy Dom: a masculine identity for a little’s caretaker. Daddy doms blend traditional dominance with the kindness of a parental role; sometimes called gentle Doms.
Mommy Domme: a feminine identity for a little’s caretaker.
There are several approaches to easing into big/little play. Role playing might be the easiest and most familiar approach. Popular roleplays such as teacher/schoolgirl or schoolboy already incorporate some of the big/little dynamic. Additionally, the adult baby (AB) or adult kid (AK) ageplay approaches are a specific form of big/little play in which people act as infants, sometimes solo and sometimes not; this can overlap with diaper fetishes. If you or a partner has experience as an AB or AK, you might find the transition to other big/little activities easier.
The first thing to do when acting as a big or little is to get into the right emotional state. For bigs, this means a more paternal and caring personality, while littles are free to regress to a child’s mindset. Physicality can also help, either by using props such as bottles, stuffed animals, and other items, or by using a set ‘costume’ to enter into the proper state of mind. For example, a little may have a special t-shirt that helps them feel more childlike, or they may begin big/little play by watching cartoons to bring out their little within. Overtime, it will become easier to drop into little behavior, and bigs and littles will become more adept at letting out these inner personalities.
For a big, rules can be set into place to nurture and discipline a little. These rules can relate to dress, diet, or tasks such as completing chores. Rules can be restrictive, such as only one hour of cartoons, or encouraging, such as having to speak up to overcome shyness. Rules are not inherently sexual. Rather, much of the pleasure comes from the little’s sense of submission and the big’s sense of nurturing, though of course, big/little play can lead to sexual interactions.
It is essential to note that big/little play is completely distinct from pedophilia. All big/little participants should be of legal age and enter into the arrangement with full enthusiastic consent. Big/little play is the same as any other roleplay or fantasy; enjoying big/little play does not indicate a pedophilic nature, and does not mean that one would be attracted to someone who is actually of an age range between 0-12.