16 Month Old Not Walking

Updated on March 24, 2008
L.B. asks from Ontario, CA
43 answers

I have a 16 month old who will cruise around the furniture and will walk with his toy walker, however he seems to have no desire to walk on his own. when i put him down he goes straight to sitting, he never tries to stand on his own. his doctor said it's just a confidence issue. he's a little boy (not even on the weight percentage chart) with a big head (61%). so i think that's an issue also, he's a little top heavy.
what i am looking for are some activities i can do with him to help him gain the confidence he needs.

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A.G.

answers from Norfolk on

Remember that every child develops at their own rate in their own style. My son didn't walk more than two steps and rarely even that until he was 2 and then all of a sudden, about 3 days before his birthday, he was walking like a pro. Now that has been typical for him since day one with all of his other milestones but either way I wouldn't stress about it until he's closer to 26 month or more. Just keep cheering him on when he's trying AT ALL and he'll probably come along fine on his own.

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H.P.

answers from Denver on

I have a 16 month old as well and she just started walking about a month ago. Same thing she had no desire and wasn't even attempting it. She would actually sit down if she knew I was watching her. She did the best when I gave her big open spaces to push things (toy grocery carts, push toys, etc). Finally her confidence zoomed and she started to do it on her own. Now she is more confident than ever and into everything.

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S.C.

answers from Missoula on

Have you tried walking with him in water? If he likes water, he might think it is fun to walk around in a very shallow (warm) pool...... just a thought :-)

S. of Polson

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N.S.

answers from Provo on

My daughter didn't start walking until 17 months, (my latest of 3 kids) and it was the best thing ever. She is so skilled and hardly ever has accidents or hurts because she is well balanced and knows how to get to the ground easily. Everyone in my family wanted me to do something, like practice more with her. She is my third and I know what it is all about when the baby starts walking, so I wasn't trying to push her. She just started walking one day and hasn't stopped. Don't worry, your son will be a very skilled walker when he starts because he will be much more coordinated than if he did it earlier. Enjoy this time when he takes his time to get around, because when he walks he'll be much faster at getting into trouble ;). Remember there isn't a normal, as long as he has the strength to walk then he will someday! So stop worrying.

Good luck,
N.

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M.M.

answers from Missoula on

Hi, my daughter didn't start walking till she was almost 20 months and was the same way about being scared plus she is extrememly tiny. The CDC said to help build up her leg muscles, I should let her crawl up stairs, supervised. Or build stairs out of cushions. I think it helped.

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B.M.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi L.. Remember that you are your child's best advocate. Your pediatrician could be right on the money, or he/she could be over looking something. A good step to insure the progress of your son, as well as to give you some peace of mind would be a second opinion. Ask a friend for a referral to a Dr. they like. Or if you see other delays look for a developmental specialist. At the very least, one of these specialists could help you to teach your son how to manage his confidence or his balance.

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M.S.

answers from Sioux Falls on

As we were teaching my disabled son how to walk the physical therapist had us hold his shoulders when he walked around. This gave a slight amount of stability but not support. Just put your hands lightly over his shoulders so that you can manipulate his weight from front to back and side to side. It worked like a charm! It also helped my second child walk very early, although I regretted that later!!!
Good luck!

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J.P.

answers from Casper on

Maybe if you get him some squeaky shoes to walk in, I had Mushoos for my baby. But there are a TON of different brands, just google kid squeaky shoes. My baby wasnt interested until she put them on then found out the cause and effect and LOVED walking. The other suggestion is to get him to hang out with kids like at a play area or play group so he will be motivated to walk like they do...

BEST of luck!

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K.T.

answers from Fort Collins on

My brother did not walk until almost 24 months my mother was very concerned, but it turned out just to be a motivation thing. One day we were outside and he saw some other kids take off playing and he wanted to go too and just jumped up and took off. Maybe your son just hasn't seen any advantage to walking yet, but he will.

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G.J.

answers from Denver on

Though it may seem out of the ordinary, I certainly would not worry. I am a mother of seven grown children and also have a few grandchildren, all under 6 yrs old. I also have taught in pre-school, run my own day care and now teach middle school.

Your doctor is probably right on the money for confidence. Is the other son older, perhaps he is taking too much of an upper hand. This will have great inpact on younger child's confidence. May activities with only you or husband. Any type, reading, letting him help stir the pudding, help pour into a pitcher. I do not think the activity itself will be as important as the chance to have him prove he can do it.

Have patience and just keep loving him and in time, assuming the doctor is correct, he will walk and before you know it - he will be walking out of your life!!

G.
Meal Planner
Littleton, CO

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S.D.

answers from Denver on

I found my daughter also didn't want to walk, though I had seen her taking steps for months. I have an older son, also, who would sometimes push her down, so like you I thought it was a confidence problem. Then one day, she just decided to do it. Maybe your doctor is right. You could also try taking her somewhere designed for babies without your older one...I saw my daughter's confidence soar when I started taking her to the children's museum once a week while my son was in preschool. Good luck!

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K.L.

answers from Pueblo on

I know you already gotten a lot of responses and my information is not much differant. My son didn't start walking until a little later also. I never thought of is as a confidence issue as much as a cautious personality. He is four now and still is cautious. One day, while in a new environment, he saw something across the room he wanted to see and just went over to see it. He was half way there before he realized what he had done. After that there was no stopping him. If the doctor says everything is ok, just be patient he'll do it when he's ready.

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H.M.

answers from Denver on

You could try out a guest class at a My Gym - they do lots of activities to help strengthen muscles, as well as build confidence!!

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P.D.

answers from Denver on

Hi!
I have a daughter who did not not walk until she was 18 months old, and another who did not walk until around 16 months. My first had been very slowly beginning to miss milestones regarding gross motor skills, and finally the Dr. had her evaluated by a physical therapist. She had low muscle tone, and needed to work on strengthening hips and torso. She went to P.T. for a few weeks, we did "homework", and right around the time she finished therapy was about the time she began walking. Everything fell into place after that, and she is now a healthy, active 13 year old. My younger daughter was not diagnosed that way, she just walked late. However, she was being looked at by an O.T. recently for something completely different and the O.T. observed that she also had slightly low muscle tone! She still was fine, and is a very active, athletic 9 year old. Hers wasn't as dramatic as my older daughter, so the Dr. missed it. It might be worth while to ask your Dr. about that as a possibility. Good luck!
P. D.

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K.E.

answers from Boise on

I was one of those slow to walk babies--at 18 months they took me to have my hips xrayed--before the results came back I started walking. I had two older sisters who would carry me everyplace. Out of my own five children, only one walked before a year (and only one had any teeth before a year!) He'll walk when he is ready--just don't offer to carry him when you are someplace he can move around on his own. He'll catch on

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T.W.

answers from Fort Collins on

Maybe try having him stand right infront of the couch or something that can support his back and sit like a foot away from him and just let him "fall" towards you.

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A.P.

answers from Denver on

My oldest son didn't walk until 17 months. He had a large head, too. My youngest son walked around 13 months. I didn't do anything different with the two. It's based on personality. Your son sounds like he's doing fine --- cruising on furniture and walking w/ toy walker. Whenever he tries walking, be his cheerleader. Maybe hold his hand(s) to encourage his walking. Let him walk barefoot. Shoes complicate things. Don't pressure him. There is an old wives' tale that claims that children who take longer to walk will be better athletes. A study suggested that good athletes are perfectionists. They focus on one skill and practice it until it's perfect. This suggests that once your son feels like he has perfected the skill of cruising/walking he'll venture out on his own. My son was clumsy for a while. I enrolled him in gymnastics and dance. Now he's very athletic. Relax. Both of you are doing fine.

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A.F.

answers from Denver on

Sounds just like my son!!! He started walking at the end of his 16th month. He has a big head too!LOLO. But once he was walking, he was running. All I did to get him more confident was to walk him around the house and outside. I took away the walker, so he couldn't use it as a crutch anymore. Eventually he got it. I wouldn't worry about it or push him too hard to walk. He will when he's ready.

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C.M.

answers from Pocatello on

Hi L.,

I am a 56 yr old Grandma. Don't worry about your son. I agree with your doctor - it is a confidence issue. Where he can walk with his little walker and around the furniture, you have proof that he CAN walk. He just needs some more time to gain confidence, then he will venture off on his own. I agree that his big head probably contributes to his balance uncertainty. My grandson had the same problem. In time your son will get a sense of his own balance and take off. Until then, dont worry or stress or push him. He is ok. Let him do things on his own timing. He will be happier that way. Enjoy him. :)

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C.C.

answers from Cheyenne on

My baby osn't walking yet, but in my stidies I havr read that cnfidence is a big thing. One game that is suggested is playing "stand up fall down". Hold him while having him stand up. Then still holding him...fall down. Once he gets the idea that he's only falling a little ways, instead of off a cliff he'll gain more confidence.

Good luck!

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K.L.

answers from Fort Collins on

My son didn't walk until 18 months and he was HUGE. Don't worry about it. This is not necessarily a sign of anything. My kid is now very athletic and in talented and gifted programs in 5th grade.

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J.S.

answers from Denver on

I have a 15 month old boy who was having the same issues. Cruises all around the furniture but no interest in walking by himself. He is really starting to build is confidence up now and this is what we did. When we walk into a store my husband would take one hand, I'd the other and we have him walk between us. We also get on the floor and do "pass the baby" having him walk to each of us holding our fingers. We also make sure to pick him up when we get to our destination, praise him with a "good job" and a kiss. Today I tried to carry him in to drop my daughter off at school, but he pushed himself down because he wanted to walk. Honestly, if he is cruising around the furniture, he has the skill to walk and the strength to hold his head up.

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W.L.

answers from Boise on

I agree with the other two responses, and I am a mother of four. My 12 month old will walk everywhere as long as she is holding on to something, but will not do it on her own. I know that she could, but she doesn't want to. I wouldn't worry about it at all. The more time children have to master the skills they have the better they do at the next skill they are learning. Having a child who is concerned about safety is a GREAT thing. I have one who doesn't care about thinking things through and he is almost six. I worry about him more than the other three combined. He walked very early but had a long term problem with balance and looking where he was going. He is always getting hurt. The other two took longer and are far much safer. You are lucky that your child is thinking things through at this age.

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K.B.

answers from Colorado Springs on

My first daughter did the same thing. And then a week after she turned 16 months, she let go and never turned back. Encourage her to walk back and forth between you and someone else like dad. Make it into a game and give tickles as a reward or a high five or being thrown in the air. He'll be fine! Like someone once told me(with a little edit) He will not go to kindergarten crawling on his knees!

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H.T.

answers from Denver on

Will he walk holding your hand? I would do a lot of that if he will do it. After that, you can have him go between two people, holding his hands constantly at first, and eventually you can get him to take a step on his own, then two, etc.

If he isn't walking by 18 months, I would get him evaluated by a physical therapist (call Child Find if you're in Colorado). My son wasn't walking at 17 months, we got a PT through Child Find, and he started walking the week after the first PT session. It works wonders if it's what you need.

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L.B.

answers from Denver on

Does he crawl? When he's sitting, place his toys out of arms reach so he will have to move forward to reach them-you can make it a fun game-if he's crawling that will help him get stronger than he'll eventually start standing up and moving around the furniture than watch out-he'll be running all over the place. Put the walker away so he won't depend on it.

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K.B.

answers from Great Falls on

I know you've already had a lot of responses, but I don't think anyone's mentioned medical issues yet. My son didn't walk until 20 months. He had a lot of ear infections in the months before. He got ear tubes put in and within a week he was RUNNING! It was a balance thing with him. Also, he has low muscle tone in his torso which might have played into it as well. Nothing to worry about, but he'll just do physical things (climbing, riding a bike...) a little later than everyone else.
K.

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R.P.

answers from Denver on

Ah L., With one little boy already walking, your desire to encourage your second one to do so is very brave! (Just joking!) I was a very late walker, and part of my issue was that I just didn't need to. I had an older sister who would hand me anything I couldn't reach. (I also didn't crawl until late - just pointed and grunted until she handed me things.) My mother's trick was to put things I wanted where I could only reach them standing, then she told my sister not to get them for me. As he's cruising the furniture, put a toy or two higher up so he has to reach for it with one or both hands. He will become more steady balancing, and that steadiness will give him confidence.
Another trick I've used is when carrying the child, put him down only one step away from a soft piece of furniture (like an ottoman - you don't want him to face plant into it!) Then hold onto his overalls, or back of his shirt to keep him upright and lean him forward a bit to encourage him to take that step to the furniture. When he gets the one step, place him 2 steps away. (If you hold his fingers he'll know he's holding on, but I don't think the shoulder straps register as assistance to them.)
Lastly, you're doing a great job and your doctor reassured you that he's okay. Don't stress yourself. He will walk, and probably very soon. Sometimes as parents, we're awfully hard on ourselves!
Have a great day.
~R.

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A.H.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Try walking with him, often. Rather than using the toy walker allow him to use your fingers. This way he will have to gain some balance as well as getting that special confidence boost from mommy time!

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K.C.

answers from Denver on

Try getting him to do one or two steps between you and your husband then slowly work your way out. It also helps if you use a favorite toy or snack as bribary.

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C.B.

answers from Denver on

my first daughter was 18 months before she started walking. I was really worried also, but really all kids are different. they all have their own time table for different milestones. It is hard to get past the milestone "guidelines" that the doctors set, but they are just that, guidelines. I would just have patience and keep working with him, he'll get the confidence he needs in time. If his brother is older have him join in the fun too, older siblings are always helpful to the younger ones. Or get moms with children of similar age over to your house for a playdate. The other children may help him get the confidence he needs, plus you get some adult time.

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M.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My little nephew did the same thing & also has a big head. I wouldn't worry much about it- he will get the hang of it & his body will grow into his head too. LOL:)

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D.G.

answers from Denver on

It sounds like he's on his way. Just be patient. My 16 month old (and 3rd child) just started walking a few weeks ago. Taking him to new places and holding his hands while he's walking should help. He'll soon be holding one hand and then on his own. Remember practice makes perfect and he'll soon gain the confidence to take a few steps on his own. It can happen in a day. Good luck.

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A.W.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I have two girls. My oldest didn't walk till she was 18 mos. She had super sensitive feet. We had to desensitize her feet w/ the help of a Physical Therapist.

You asked for ideas of how to encourage your son to walk not in the walker. There are great toys out there. There are two types that come to mind. 1.The changing type that start off being a balancing toy w/ wheels so they can walk and then it converts into a sit on push car. 2.The ones that look like cars w/ a handle on the back to push while walking. Some of the car ones allow the child to store toys under the seat. I put a brick in there to make the toy heavier so it didn't push as easy my daughter could get her balance and take a few steps. As I saw her confidence building I removed the brick. If you go with this kind I suggest finding a plain one. By plain I mean dont get one that has a lot of buttons and music. The buttons kept my daughter sitting on the toy. She wanted to push the piano keys to see Winnie the Pooh spin instead of using the car as a car. It was just another seat to her. The buttons are very distracting. Get a plain one if your son likes to push buttons!

All this said I agree w/ all the other comments that I read. Your son will walk when HE is good and ready to do so. Maybe he simply likes playing the way he has been playing and doesn't want to branch out yet.

Good luck!
A.

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K.H.

answers from Grand Junction on

Hi L.

My son was a late walker too. He had a long body and it took him a while to get the hang of it. If he is walking around furniture and with his walker, he is getting the idea. I would just keep giving him opportunities to want to do it. Create excitement to get from one person to another, encourage him to come to you for a toy or hug that he wants, etc. Just keep encouraging him and he will get it. I remember some people giving me advise about foot wear. Some babies walk with shoes easier than with bare feet and visa vesa. My son began walking in footy pj's with the grippy's on the bottom and got the hang of it in those. Just another idea. Have the camera ready, he will be zooming all over very soon!
In Joy,
K.

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A.M.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My first baby didn't walk until 15 months and I remember worrying about her. (Interesting comment by the previous poster about later walkers being more athletic. I'd never heard that but it is true in our family too.) My pediatrician said it was a caution thing and that it was great to have a cautious kid. Less accidents and bonks that way. I think the best thing is to encourage him to walk holding on to your hands, as others have mentioned. Then gradually change it from holding hands to just touching hands or wrists or elbows or shoulders. I second the advice of one mom who suggested having your son help with other things to encourage confidence and independence.

I remember setting up a little obstacle course for my baby with chairs and cherrios to encourage cruising along furniture. I would make the chairs close enough for my baby to walk from one to the next, holding on to them for support, and then slightly increase the distance after she was very confident in walking along. What finally got her to walk was when she decided she wanted to go get her favorite Strawberry Shortcake doll on the couch. (Thank you, Strawberry Shortcake!) Walking from parent to parent didn't really work for her. It was the motivation of getting her toy. And like others mentioned about their own kids, she went from a couple of steps to 12 steps at a time all in one day and by the end of the week she was running and you'd never know she'd been a slow walker. You may find that to be true for your little guy too. Good luck.

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H.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My good friend also has a child who isn't walking yet. she is actually 19 months though. Her doctor told her the same thing. He said that it takes confidence and determination to walk and she just hasn't decided to do it yet. I think it is interesting that he is small and has a big head, because she is the same way. Huge head, tiny body. She also has really little feet. my baby's feet are about twice as big as hers and he has been walking since he was 8 months. She can walk, but she chooses not to. If her mom says "come here, walk to me" she will say "NO NO!" and crawl around. As long as he doesn't have any other developmental problems, I would say he is okay, you just have to wait it out. good luck!

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J.D.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi,
My little guy wasn't walking at 16 months either, his PT finally got him moving by supporting his legs from behind (hold leg near the knee with thumbs supporting buttocks, kinda like a pressure point) have someone else blow bubbles for him to reach for. Bubbles were a great way to motive my little guy. At age 3 he outruns the best of them, hope this helps. Also look at his feet while he's standing, are his feet flat? My guy wears arch support because he doesn't have an arch. .
J. D.

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J.P.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I had 2 boys born premature, one walked at 17 months and the other walked at 22 months. Just don't stress about it. All children learn how to walk eventially. This way he won't escape out your front door. (Mine did all the time) Good Luck.

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K.J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Maybe have dance time where you're holding his body, and graually let him be on his own

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D.W.

answers from Pocatello on

L.,
I don't have any activities for you to help him gain confidence. I just wanted you to know that my son, who is now 28-years-old, didn't walk until he was about 20 months old. (He also crawled backwards! Which we laugh at now, but at the time was frustrating. We say now that we should have got him a beeper like the big construction trucks have to warn people that they are going to back up) :) Anyway, he crawled backwards and didn't walk until he was 20 months old. The doctor's always assured me that he was perfectly normal, which looking back on now I can see that he was, it was just frustrating when my friends and neighbors kids were all walking and running and it seems that was all they wanted to talk about. "My Timmy is now walking up and down stairs faster than me!" I'm sure you've had the same experience. Just remember to be patient and love each and every experience and moment that you have with him. Because once today is over, it's only a memory. He will walk when he is ready, but one question. Does he get carried a lot by family members? My youngest walked late also, but it was because she had four older siblings, all old enough to carry her around, and boy did they. I had to have a family meeting and tell them not to carry her all the time! A couple weeks later she was walking all by herself and didn't want to be held and carried everywhere anymore! She's been little miss independent ever since. Anyway, the books and doctors all tell us that each child is different, and does things at in their own time frame, then they publish those darn charts that say what your child should be doing at what age!!! Just love your boys and husband and enjoy each moment of each day. Good luck to you and your family. God Bless! D.

I am a working mom with 5 children, ages 28 to 12, with only the 12 year-old at home now, and I also have 5 grandchildren! Life is Good.

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A.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My little boy didn't walk until just before 16 months. I know he had the ability way before but it was confidence and desire, he was a very fast crawler. I am not sure exactly what activities to do... but it what seemed to help my little guy was the more I was around other kids that could walk he seemed to do more and more, like if they can do I I can do it. Especially around kids close to his age. good luck! And if all else fails, he will do it anyway, like my little guy. It wasn't just a two steps and he started to walk, the first time he did it on his own he just took off across the room.

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M.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I have 3 boys and with each one they got older with thier walking and talking skills. Now I realize I am glad my youngest isn't walking yet cause he still is like a baby. They grow so fast and eventually they will all be gone and we will miss them as babies. So just enjoy it! It will come soon enough, I promise. I don't believe that at that young age they have any confidence issues. Of course they doubt thierselves and don't want to fall down. (who would) so in time he will be just fine!
M.

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