Tips for getting your kids to sleep well

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DENVER -- Brooke and Jared Hostmeyer knew they needed help.  Their 18-month-old daughter Emma was waking up three to five times a night wanting a bottle each time.

"It was exhausting," Jared said.

The couple was losing sleep, and it was taking a toll.  So they went to see a pediatric sleep specialist at National Jewish Health.

Dr Lisa Meltzer helped them come up with a plan.  She had the couple start with bedtime, weaning Emma off the bottle by putting less and less in it each night.

"Most parents who come to see me don't want to let their child cry it out, so I take a more gradual approach," Dr. Meltzer said.

Dr Meltzer has five tips to help kids sleep better.

Tip 1-  Dr Meltzer says the number one thing you should do is establish a consistent bed time and bed-time routine, putting your child to bed when they are sleepy and allowing them to fall asleep on their own.  "It's really important for children to learn to sleep independently if you want them to return to sleep independently in the night," she said.

Tip 2- Dr. Meltzer says to stop kids from coming into your bed in the middle of the night,  parents must consistently walk the kids back to their own bed, and remember if you are with your child as they fall asleep at bedtime, they will want you when they wake up in the night.

Tip 3 is for the older kids.  Take technology out of the bedroom.  Keep the phones, iPads, iPods, computers and televisions out.

Tip 4- Kids should stop using technology 30 to 60 minutes before bed time.  "Our brains need time to wind down.  So if you are using electronics its very stimulating," Dr. Meltzer said.

Tip 5- Don't let the kids go to bed hungry.  That makes it harder to fall asleep.

The National Sleep Foundation says kids ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep every night.

Dr Meltzer says sleep is very important.  If kids don't get enough sleep it can affect their growth, learning concentration and mood.  Some experts say if parents let their child "cry it out," it will take about three nights to get them sleeping, but many parents don't want to do that.

For a longer list of tips check out the following websites.

National Jewish Hospital Sleep Center

Sleep Foundation

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