North West - He’s a husband, dad, factory foreman, loves rugby and braais and wears a nappy under his jeans.
Jan-Hendrick Terblanche, aka Poopoo-nappy, sounds like a typical Boer.
But this 40-year-old is an infantilist – a grown-up who chooses to escape to a baby world where he feels emotionally safe.
“When I don’t [wear my nappy] I get aggressive. To calm down, I put on a nappy and suck a dummy until I fall asleep,” he told the Daily Voice in an exclusive interview.
Locally, adult baby syndrome is still under wraps, which is why Jan-Hendrick started his own website.
Jan-Hendrick was only five years old when he first put on a “nappy”, wrapping a small blanket around himself.
As a teen, he stole towelling nappies and waterproofs before finding out that pharmacies sold adult nappies.
His teens were hell. Coming from a conservative, Afrikaner background, he was consumed by guilt and considered suicide.
Then in 1995 he read an article on adult babies and realised he was not alone.
“A psychologist I consulted in 2003 told me my mother didn’t love me enough, but I don’t believe that,” said the North West man.
“I don’t blame my parents. We all have insecurities and it affects you in different ways. Some turn to alcohol and drugs.
“But infantilism doesn’t hurt anybody. It has nothing to do with sex or paedophilia. Adult babies don’t want to be with children – we want to be children.
“I don’t have a problem with my masculinity. I simply need the security of snuggling up to my wife at night and suckling on her breasts while she maternally strokes my head or pats my nappy.”
He told his wife about his condition two weeks into the relationship – and they’ve been happily married for more than a decade.
“Sometimes my wife needs a extra little bit of attention, then I leave the nappies and she’ll fall asleep in my arms. Of course, with the odds of me wetting the bed she’ll wake me up later and tell me to go put on a nappy.
“I think nothing upsets my wife more than waking up in her husband’s pee-pee!”
Jan-Hendrick says wearing a nappy by day has its challenges – like when he went bungee jumping and his nappy showed.
Since launching his website adultbabies.co.za – he has met dozens of infantilists.
“There are about 100 adult babies in South Africa, 10 who I know personally.”
His advice to closet adult babies?
“Die lewe is te kort om ’n onderbroek te dra. (Life is too short to wear underpants.)”
Lifting the lid on infantilism
A documentary recently lifted the lid on the adult-baby phenomenon.
The UK’s Channel 4 broadcast a documentary series, The 15-Stone Babies, showing the bizarre lives of those who practise it in the US and UK.
Many said they yearn to be absolved of any of the responsibilities of adulthood and escape into the role-play of babyhood.
Infantilism covers a wide spectrum – from pure adult babies who need to be treated as real babies 24/7, to diaper lovers – people who wear nappies because it sexually arouses them. Sissy babies are adults who role-play as infants of the opposite sex.
Experts say the urge to be treated as a baby usually begins between the ages of five and 15. The majority are heterosexual males, with just one in five women. Women mostly take on the role of the caregiver or “mommy”.
Pure Adult Babies are not paedophiles and are often acutely protective of real children, says sexologist Gloria Brame.
Due to the clandestine nature of the lifestyle, there is no way to ascertain the number of adult babies – although some infantilists put it between 300 000 and 500 000 in the USA and UK.