The teal-colored room packed with 12 toddlers and an almost equal number of watchful grown-ups could be a day-care center anywhere in the U.S.—except for the men and women in lab coats with tubes of saline solution in hand. This is Procter & Gamble’s Discovery Center, a baby-care research lab just north of company headquarters in Cincinnati.
Toddlers romp around pulling books and toys onto the floor and sometimes escape into the hallway. Researchers set the children on examining tables and use small hoses to inject saline solution at precise “pee points” in the diapers—which differ for boys and girls—to determine how absorbent they are. “We’re trying to build a diaper that is zero leakage, ultimate dryness, ultimate comfort, with an underwear-like fit,” says Al Maingot, vice president for baby-care research and development.