Age: 3-6 months

Tooth for the price of one – again! (teething, biting & breastfeeding)

Biting, teething and breastfeeding

Is there just one upper central incisor coming in here?

So I thought I could see a new tooth coming in on the top, an “upper central incisor”. This would be the next tooth to come in after his lower front teeth according to tooth order information. However, yesterday it looked like, again, he decided to be efficient and grow two at the same time. And yes, indeed there is another upper central incisor coming in. So now we will have a scary mouth of upper and lower front teeth. Scary for me as I am the one feeding him. He has bitten me twice; I had already thought in advance what I was going to do if he bit me. I decided to yell and express that it hurt as soon as he bit me, to take him off, look at him and say “biting hurts mummy” – see this post on behavioural psychology and explanation of reinforcement and punishers for why – in a nutshell, I wanted to give immediate feedback and a consequence to the biting, and to show that it had an impact. He cried and I cuddled him.

Here’s a brief recap on punishment and reinforcement: 

  • Punishment” doesn’t necessarily mean there is a harmful or dangerous consequence, it’s a process where a consequence immediately follows a behaviour which decreases the future likelihood of that behaviour occurringPositive punishment is where a negative consequence is put in place after the behaviour, like sending child to “time out” or telling them off, and negative punishment where a good thing or desired outcome is removed after the behaviour occurs, such as removing cake/sweets. 
  • Reinforcement is where behaviour increases. Positive reinforcement is where a behaviour increases because  it’s followed by a positive/motivating consequence. Negative reinforcement is where behaviour increases because a negative consequence is removed, such as a kid does his chores (behaviour) to avoid being nagged to do it (negative).

So I suppose expressing my discomfort would be a positive punisher? I don’t know if it was the “right” thing to do but I don’t want to be bitten and in fear at every feed. It seemed to work and there was no biting again for a few weeks, then he bit slightly a few days ago, so I did the same thing. I don’t know if that was because he had a new tooth coming in and he was experimenting, or what.

nope, I decided to give you BOTH upper central incisors at the same time

nope, I decided to give you BOTH upper central incisors at the same time

Also, the Little Lovely (LL) appears to be teething a bit earlier than average; first teeth might not come in until between 5 and 7 months, according to this page on teething from the NHS, and upper central incisors at 6 to 8 months. LL was about 4.5 months when his first teeth came in so maybe his younger age impacts on biting and feeding issues? I don’t really know, I’m just thinking out loud.

What I noticed each time, however, is that he was not really eating and had probably finished. It feels like sometimes, toward the end of the feed he is just “mucking around” a bit.  I can tell this by playing with his hand or kissing on his arm. If he has finished eating then he will giggle a bit and smile – if he is proper eating and seriously concentrating on that, he does not react to this playing so I leave him to get on with eating. So, maybe he was just experimenting with his new teeth. I will need to retrospectively complete a behavioural analysis on the situation if he does it again! Indeed, from from having a quick search online babies are more likely to bite if they are full, and teething can also impact on biting. So looking at contextual factors in considering why baby bites might be helpful because LL was teething when he bit a few days ago because the other top front tooth was probably about to break through.

Here are some “tips to reduce and eliminate biting” from La Leche League (LLL). In summary, they write:

  • it’s physically impossible for baby to bite when latched on correctly and nursing actively. this is because baby needs to stop sucking in order to bite – so this supports my observation that his biting came at the end of the feed when he was “mucking about” and not actually eating as actively as he does at the start of a feed
  •  So, as a first “hint” of when your baby is about to bite, try and watch for a moment–usually after the initial hunger has been satisfied–when your nipple slips forward in your baby’s mouth. Often the tension in your baby’s jaw will change just before this happens.

  • when you notice this “change”, you can release the suction by placing a finger into the corner of baby’s mouth and take him off, keeping your finger in his mouth to protect the nipple. Pulling baby off might seem like an automatic response to being bitten, but it will be less painful if you release the suction!
  •  positioning may be relevant: pull baby in closer. If he begins to position himself away from the nipple, “be alert for a possible bite”. Great


See here for further information from LLL on “if your baby bites”, an interesting page that offers more details to the above points on what to do if baby bites, factors that might contribute to biting, positioning matters, preventing biting  and gaining perspective. The contributing factors section is interesting; it’s helpful to think about what is contributing to the biting when attempting to address it. For example, the page writes that colds (lack of clear airway could interfere with suckling correctly) teething and asking for attention can be contributing factors. Responses to and attempts to address biting might be different depending on different contributing factors.






The baby race

So last night I was talking to an acquaintance about our babies; they they have a child a few weeks older than the Little Lovely, or maybe a month older, I can’t remember. Anyway, this parent had told me months ago that their LL sleeps through the night. I was imagining that maybe this was a fad the child was going through, that they couldn’t possibly have slept through the night from such an early age, and maybe now they had settled down to a “normal” night time schedule of waking up several times, just like my LL. But no, this child is still sleeping “through the night” and in fact is apparently sleeping about 13 hours. If they woke in the night they might “grumble for a few moments” but then go back to sleep. They then wake up about 6am but stay in their cot and “talk to their toys” until about 7am. Great, sounds great. The acquaintance then noticed that LL has teeth. So in an effort to big at least something up about LL to counter the other baby’s magical sleep powers I then showed off about how yes he has teeth, can sit up and can crawl backwards. Hah! Yes, petty I know. But then I was gracious and said that I would swap it all for more sleep.

He’s not doing too bad at the moment. He is usually asleep by 8pm, waking up at 1am and 4am for a feed and he likes to get up about 7am, although he has woken up anywhere between 6:30am and 8:30am. And unlike magical baby above, he does not sit quietly in his cot or talk to his toys (there aren’t any anyway in his cot) – he will make noises that get progressively louder and eventually scream at us until we wake up and pay him attention.

The Sleep Lady

Baby sleep tips and issues, psychological perspectives and do you want to Wait It Out or Cry It Out?


sleeping cot

So yesterday the Little Lovely and I went to a baby talk thingy about sleep (aged 5 months)

We’d actually been to it before, a couple of months ago, and the session was being run again by a sleep expert woman that you can hire the services of for quite a lot of money. She kept it quite generic as there were a lot of mothers there with various issues but some common aspects among us, mostly being that baby was not sleeping as long as we’d like them to (of course) or issues with getting baby off to sleep. It was very interesting to go, normalised the sleep issues because, as we discussed, even if you have some “friend” or mother you come across that states that their child sleeps for 12 hours at night uninterrupted, that is the exception and not the norm. I’ll add though that the babies here were probably all under 8-10 months old.
It also made me think that maybe LL’s sleeping isn’t that bad afterall! Sure, i’m up about 3 times a night to feed him and I get about 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, but some of the mothers there were up 7 times a night and one spoke about how her baby scratches himself at night and only falls asleep by scratching himself. She had to put gloves on him. The sleep lady thought that the touching and scratching was something he did to stimulate himself and help get himself to sleep and suggested a comforter with tags or something tactile on it. Interesting situation; wish we’d spoken about it more but unfortunately someone with a louder voice took up a lot of the time (as is often the case in groups) about how her child sleeps from 8 until 5am, but she couldn’t get him to sleep any later than 5am and was tired of getting up so early. Someone eventually commented, when the group couldn’t find any satisfactory solution, maybe she should be happy that her child is sleeping for 9 hours at a time because most of us are not. Harsh, but true especially when speaking to a group of sleep deprived mothers who have been deprived for about half a year or more.


Other issues we talked about:
    • sleep associations
    • independent comforters – for example using a comforter, blanket, something that is independent from you and is not the breast, being rocked by you etc, so that baby can use this to feel secure and self sooth and you do not need to be there every time he falls sleeps. We tried this with LL but it never really took off. I bought a nice comforter blanket and slept with it for a few nights (as the sleep lady recommended, to get your smell on it) and got it out when feeding LL (the sleep lady recommended actually putting it between you and baby when feeding) but he wasn’t interested. Another thing I could have done but didn’t would be to play with it with LL and associate it with fun and get him more used to it.
    • putting baby down when sleeping/drowsy – using whatever method you use for baby to get sleepy e.g. rocking, cuddles, etc, but not using these to the point where he is actually asleep and therefore teaching baby the skill of falling asleep independently (much easier said than done, of course)
    • a good bedtime routine, nap routines including use of certain words such as “sleeping time now” or any other word cues. Basically, weaving some cues into the routine so that baby can start to recognise it’s nearly sleep time by using words, song, actions like reading a book
    • something called “wake to sleep” – i’ve not heard of this, I need to look into it more (note to self – look into this)
    • shaping naps with baby after 5 months of age – this was good to hear because i was thinking that we need to start getting a good nap routine and schedule in place and LL is nearly 5 and half months.
    • start with one nap at a time, focus on it and then build on it – building on the above point, to focus on one nap and work on that to begin with – also good to hear because I have been focussing on the morning nap with LL and making sure we 1) do one! 2) he is in his cot 3) he falls asleep in his cot which he mostly does although sometimes I need to go into the bedroom and shush/pat or pick him up and comfort him a few times. We were previously doing morning naps in the buggy because LL only fell asleep by being pushed back and forth in it.


We also spoke about whether you should let your baby cry at night and there were mixed views. There was the view that “happy parent makes happy baby” and so if baby cries for a bit during “sleep training” but then sleeps better as the outcome then everyone in the family benefits. I know that this could be a contentious issue as some are very firmly no cry, and others are not. I have also come across the view that leaving baby to “cry it out” and “controlled crying” results in an eventual reduction of crying, a quieter baby and better sleeping because it actually develops learned helplessness – the baby stops crying and sleeps because they have learnt that nothing they do in the situation can help and they have no control. They have learnt this because the times that they did cry, they were left to cry, or were comforted but didn’t receieve a feed or get picked up or whatever else they were expecting. Therefore, they are helpless and give up, rather than the view that the sleep training intervention resulted in baby sleeping peacefully because they “learnt” to sleep, learnt that it is night time and therefore they should be tired and sleep.


Ψ here’s a nice short video and further info on the traditional meaning of learned helplessness, observations/research that led to the development of the term (Seligman), and it’s application to mental health (attributions)


Erm, not sure about this myself, seems bit extreme, I mean, we’re talking about behavioural aspects here. Ok, say there is a behaviour going on that is not really very nice and leads to some problems for another person, say for example, your child goes around hitting another child and screaming in their face. Most people would address this and implement some kind of behavioural strategy, maybe some kind of reinforcement or positive punishment such as telling the child off, removing a reward (negative punishment) etc.


Ψ Here’s a good page that explains positive/negative reinforcement and punishers – for example, they explain that “punishment” doesn’t necessarily mean there is a harmful or dangerous consequence, it’s a process where a consequence immediately follows a behaviour which decreases the future likelihood of that behaviour occurring. Positive punishment is where a negative consequence is put in place after the behaviour, like sending child to “time out” or telling them off, and negative punishment where a good thing or desired outcome is removed after the behaviour occurs, such as removing cake/sweets/ice cream because the child was “naughty”. Reinforcement is where behaviour increases. Positive reinforcement is where a behaviour increases because  it’s followed by a positive/motivating consequence such as praise, reward, like giving a kid money (positive) for doing chores (the behaviour). Negative reinforcement is where behaviour increases because a negative consequence is removed, such as a kid does his chores (behaviour) to avoid being nagged to do it (negative).


Ψ punishers = want to decrease frequency/likelihood of a behaviour

Ψ reinforcers = want to increase frequency/likelihood of a behaviour


Anyway, what was my point~? I think it was that you might implement some kind of behavioural strategy or consequence for some behaviours but would we call the desired outcome, i.e. the kid stops screaming at and hitting the other child, an example of learned helplessness? Why implement the strategy in the first place? Well because not many people in the situation are benefiting – the other child isn’t, the parent isn’t, and what’s the child’s motivation or concern that is leading to him screaming and hitting? Because parents are “training” or “guiding” their child in something, be it sleep or other behaviours, why must the outcome be labelled learned helplessness? Each family and parent is different and has their own motivation and justification for what they do, and if by leaving their child to cry for a few minutes at a time while periodically comforting them (or not, depending on the parent), so that the outcome is that they can sleep and therefore better parent their children and cope with the day, then so be it.
I fell asleep

I fell asleep

And so speaking of which, I’m also going to start working on some of these night time feeds because i’m not sure how good it is for either of us to be waking up every few hours. I might start with one and see what happens. Did I mention that I’ve been sleep deprived for almost half a year?





Please note: there are of course many other views and approaches to the change to one’s sleeping patterns that comes with children. See, for example, this post on something called “wait it out” (rather than cry it out, I assume).
A quote from the article (I especially like point 1 about sleep being developmental, not behavioural):

WIO or the “Wait it Out” Method of sleep training is a method with a few core beliefs:

1- Independent sleep is developmental not behavioral. 
2- Needing comfort and closeness is an instinct not a preference.
3- Cries are communication not manipulation.
4- Babies can slowly and gently learn to be comfortable with independent sleep as they are developmentally ready.
5- The path each baby will take to independent sleep is unique.
6- The progression to independent sleep does not always feel like forward momentum.


Further relevant links:



one size fits all?

What’s going on with baby clothes sizes? The “Little” Lovely (LL) ain’t so little anymore and despite being just over 5 months, he has been growing out of his 3-6 month vests and sleep-suits for some time. One vest after the other is being resigned to the vacuum pack plastic bag that gets shoved under the bed with the rest of the newborn and 0-3 month clothes that don’t fit him any more. Some have lasted a little longer and were either a bit generous on the size or maybe the many washes and soaks from trying to get poo stains off them, and his large size have stretched the fabric. Anyway, bought some 6-9 month old vests and sleep-suits from one well known baby store. The vests now barely fit him, and the sleep-suits are giant in the arm length and slightly long in the legs.

OK – so then bought some 9-12 month vests from a popular department store and there is a little big of wiggle room so they’ll do. Another set of sleep-suits from a supermarket and they are also quite large. No idea what’s going on there and I can’t keep buying stuff from different stores in the hope something will fit. I guess he’ll just have to grow into the sleep-suits. We’ve rolled the sleeves so they are kind of ok. I found some nifty little vest extenders online, not bought them yet but planning to so we can get a bit more life out of the vests that I JUST bought for him.

More sleep (or lack of)

Ok so another sleep post. Many of my thoughts are about sleep and how to get more of it. As an update, I haven’t been using the Pantley’s method; I think I used it a few times then stopped. What seems to be working better is

1) trying to get a better, more consistent and predictable day time schedule in, including naps and feeds every 3 to 4 hours. I am doing a morning nap an hour or so after he gets up in the mornings because he seems to get tired and start rubbing his eyes very soon after waking. I am also trying to do the morning nap in his cot now, rather than rocking him in the buggy in the hope that this will be a consistent and predictable anchor point in the day and also to strengthen that association between being in the cot and going to sleep.

2) a bed time story as the last activity of our night time routine so that the Little Lovely isn’t being fed to sleep.

I say that it’s been working better, but things can always change. We’ve had a good few nights recently at least where he has gone to sleep around 8pm and woken for feeds around 12/1am and then 5am. I suppose that’s following our day time routine of eating every 4 hours or so. He also seems to be a bit quicker at settling himself to sleep and has even settled back to sleep a couple of times in the middle of the night following just a bit of patting – rather than a feed. I hope it lasts.

I still need to develop a nap routine. At the moment we are reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar before naps but nothing else. I don’t know if that’s enough wind down time and cues for LL that we are going to go to sleep soon.

Sleep update


Have now added a bed time story to the routine! After the Bath, Change of clothes (was supposed to be a massage here as well but he was usually bit too tired, screamy and wanting a feed at this point) and Feed elements of the current routine.

The first few nights the LL fell asleep as usual during the bedtime feed. However, rather than putting him into his cot asleep (well, he does wake up a bit when moved into the cot) we now read him a story (Goodnight Moon, at the moment). At first he woke up very annoyed and crying, but now he sits and looks and touches on the book calmly. We then put him into bed awake and let him fall asleep. It takes him a while and sometimes with a bit of crying, but he eventually falls asleep without feeding. If he cries we go into the room to comfort him, he stops, then we go back out again and leave him to keep trying.

Next step – Try this for naps! I’ve been trying to read LL a story before day time naps (the Hungry Caterpillar) as well. Unfortunately we are still doing rock yourself to sleep in the buggy for day time naps. But – at least he is sleeping. One step at a time, and he still feels very little, getting on for 5 months.

Day Time Schedules

Thinking more about him sleeping through the night, I was thinking about schedules. ???????????????????????????????

I’m attempting a better day time schedule (maybe this will positively impact on night time?). So far we don’t really have one. This is terrible I know because in my work I am all about behavioural interventions and working with people to log their activities and create meaningful activities and some structure to their day. In my depression related work with adults this can be fundamental and people often see an increase in mood with an increase in meaningful activities, good self care and better sleep at night. At the moment with LL we just do what I think he wants to do when he wants to do it. It’s probably an extension of the feeding and sleeping on demand that was present from birth. But now I’m wondering if the lack of structure and routine is just not very containing or predictable for him, or for me. Naps and feeds then get thrown off and can occur at any time. He doesn’t know what to expect and neither do I.

In another attempt to break the eat-sleep association, I’m trying to not feed before naps and instead to do a feed, wake (inc. play/activities/baby classes etc) and then sleep kind of structure. I just need to work out how long each cycle should be. Some say 3, some say 4 hours at this stage (e.g. Baby Whisperer; LL is 4.5 months). The eat-sleep association just kind of arose because it was difficult to get LL off to sleep initially and that seemed to work. Rocking him while singing row your boat also seemed to work for day time naps and although I knew that in the long term these methods might not be great because he was reliant on my rocking or feeding, I didn’t mind because at least he was getting some sleep and not cyring about being tired. I thought – well I’ll just have to make changes to any habits later on because at this point (first few weeks/months) any sleep is better than no sleep, and I don’t care how we achieve it! And the longer the sleep, the better.

Ok so plan for next few weeks is to start more of a day time routine! Consistency and predictability is really important.

When will he sleep through the night?

So we are still getting up a few times a night for feeds.

The Little Lovely (LL) seems to wake up around 1am, 3:30/4am and then about 6:30am. Apparently 6:30am is classed as morning and doesn’t count as a night awakening. Well it does in my book because it’s still the middle of the night and too early for me. He goes to bed around 8pm so can now go a good 5 hours before waking which is great compared to the earlier months and weeks when I was getting up every 2 hours to feed him and it was horrible. I think I must have adapted to disturbed sleep and little sleep. I wonder if my sleep cycle has adapted so that the times LL wakes up actually coincide with the end of a sleep cycle? I have no idea if that’s possible.

What’s the research on this? (note to self – look into this)

So now I’m wondering if he should be sleeping without so many feeds and if I should be doing something about this – or if he is still too young. I don’t mind the first feed at 1am because he has had a good stretch of sleep. But is the next feed necessary? Should we just put up with it until he’s weaned or should we spend a few screamy nights of breaking the eat/sleep association)? Yaaay says LL’s father, to the latter idea. But what if he is genuinely hungry?

A quick look at the internet says that LL might be a “habitual waker” because he tends to wake at the same time every night. Apparently if he was going through a growth spurt and needed the food he would be waking at random times. We briefly attempted not feeding him during one waking the other night and all that happened was he cried at us and refused to be soothed or settled by cuddles, rocking or any other soothing and only calmed once he was fed.

Maybe I can try a briefer feed and slowly cut down on the length/time of feed to change the association between eating and sleeping  (I have to suckle in order to fall asleep, otherwise I can’t do it alone).Although I’m not sure if a graded approach will work because I would still be feeding him to sleep, plus I’m very tired at 4am and might dose off and lose track of how long it’s been or it might work somewhat but take some time. And dosing off while nursing (both of us) is probably contributing to the issue.

I’ve found this:


More on how Pantley developed The No-Cry Sleep Solution and her research methods

from what I understand, this involves:

  • Feeding baby when awake but rather than letting him fall asleep during the feed and whilst sucking, wait until he is relaxed and sleepy, then remove the breast/bottle just before falling asleep.
  • If baby starts to look for the breast/bottle and tries to continue sucking then try to hold his mouth closed gently by putting a finger under his chin or some light pressure on the chin just below his lips (hmm, sounds easier said than done). You can rock the baby or say comforting words while doing this.
  • If this doesn’t go down well then give the bottle/breast again and repeat the process until he falls asleep without sucking.
  • When removing the breast/bottle, do this for about 10-60 seconds and count while you do this
  • Repeat each night until baby can fall asleep on own and does not frequently wake at night.
  • Work on this technique at bedtime, in particular the initial falling asleep as baby will probably want to fall asleep the same way for the rest of the night following any further awakenings.
  • Once night time use of this method is achieved then it can also be used for naps.
  • It could take several days or longer to break the association but you should eventually see a reduction in night awakenings

…… well we’ll see how well that goes down!

(see Pantley’s book if you are interested in more – I haven’t read it, just found the information above from general sleep and baby forum reading online)

The other option is just to not nurse LL to sleep in the first place and to break the association, or develop a new association there. We should try reading a book or singing a lullaby or something immediately before sleep.

  • Rather than feeding him in the bedroom right before he falls asleep maybe I’ll feed him in the living room with a dim light – then take him into the bedroom for a story or another quiet activity immediately prior to sleep.

Tooth for the Price of One!

Two for the price of one!

There’s two teeth there not just one! ogre tooth two

The Little Lovely’s daddy noticed another one coming in right next to the first. Poor boy. I wonder if it’s confusing for him to have these things suddenly appear and hurt in his mouth. No calpol, granuals or teething gel today. I did get another teether though in case it helps him. He doesn’t seem to be too interested in them though and prefers to chew on his or my hand instead.

Although he’s been drooly for a while, teething symptoms apparently occur significantly more frequently in the days before, during and after the tooth emergence (an 8-day teething period or “window” – says a recentish study (1)). Might explain some irritability and poor sleep we all had recently.  The study didn’t find high fever to be associated with teething, something that I was looking out for and relying on to confirm teething! Although a mild rise in temperature was associated.  Some infants had no symptoms, but they do helpfully highlight “mild symptoms” found to be temporally associated with teething including increased biting, drooling, gum-rubbing, sucking, irritability, wakefulness, ear-rubbing and facial rash. Although, no particular cluster of symptoms were found to reliably predict the imminent emergence of a tooth — so poot if I was looking for a predictive formula. oh well, only one study.

Note though symptoms are not necessarily caused by teething (they are only associated) – for example, this study (2) writes that  “during this same time period of an infant’s life, passive immunity due to maternal antibodies wanes and exposure to a wide variety of childhood illnesses occurs. Due to this temporal relationship, teething often is blamed for symptoms such as changes in sleep and eating patterns, rhinorrhea, drooling, rash, fussiness, and diarrhea.”



(1) Macknin et al., (2000).  Symptoms Associated With Infant Teething: A Prospective Study. Pediatrics, 105 (4), pp. 747 -752

(2) Markman, L. (2009). Teething Facts and Fiction. Pediatrics in Review, 30, pp. e59 -e64 

Is that a tooth?

small chair LL  The Little Lovely (LL- as pictured) is teething!

He’s been drooly for a while now, and could get quite irritated, so we suspected It could be teething but then we also weren’t sure as he can get slobbery and annoyed at other times as well. He gets particularly drooly before his bedtime feed; I started singing the song “truly scrumptious” but replacing “truly” with “drooly”, until the song got stuck in our heads and LL’s daddy banned the song. In fact I’m singing the song now. I just googled it and found this website, so I’m apparently not the only one making that association. Unfortunately for me the site is American, so I can’t buy anything there. Too bad, this one looks quite nice

ogre tooth

Anyway, he has one little toothy peg coming in on the bottom in the middle. He’s going to look like a ogre with one little tooth sticking out, but it appears that he is “normal” in terms of this tooth coming in first according to info on order of tooth appearance.

I was sitting next to a nanny at a baby class, and she told me that when the front and bottom teeth come in the baby looks like a rabbit – nice! She said she has nannied 7 babies so far and has her own children, so I suppose she should know.

I was recommended those chamomile teething granules so we used one today and a bit of teething gel. LL didn’t seem at all concerned that we were putting strange stuff in his mouth. I don’t know if they work yet for him, it’s only been used the once.

I was a bit upset when he first started drooling and I suspected teething. And now he actually has one coming through it means he’s not a baby anymore and and a reminder he won’t need milk forever. He’s on the way to chewing and munching through his own foods. He’s only 4.5 months old, it all seems a bit early. My little baby is no longer so little.

I need to find a gum massager and other teething tools. We have some teethers that I bought a few weeks ago, but he is not very interested in chewing on them. I got a chewable toothbrush but I’ve seen some that you can put on your finger for babies to chew. This might be a better idea because LL is a big fan of hand and finger chewing, both his own and anyone else’s.



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