IMI and Nurturing Sleep Partner to Raise Child Sleep Consultant Standards

To continue raising the bar for child sleep consultant professionals, and to address the root of child sleep challenges, the International Maternity Institute (IMI) has teamed up with Ann Caird, founder of Nurturing Sleep. Going forward, IMI has determined it will implement “emotional wellbeing” as a standard sleep hygiene component, one that all IMI Maternity & Child Sleep consultants will be required to recognize and include when working with families.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “the emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their physical health.” IMI founder Mar Luz Oscategui stated it is prudent to include “emotional wellbeing” in the sleep hygiene of children, even if most child sleep books and programs do not address it currently. Just like IMI includes commitment, mindfulness, and green awareness in their sleep hygiene components, this is another “uncommon sleep hygiene component” that should be a norm, Oscategui contends.  

“We know and are aware of how important it is to welcome and maintain a strong, secure, and healthy emotional bond between parents and their children,” Oscategui said. “We have found that child sleep challenges carry with them the perfect opportunity to do this.”

“’Emotional wellbeing’ is one of the most important elements of sleep that I work with, and I recognize it as crucially important not only for every child and baby’s sleep, but for every parent implementing sleep work too,” Caird said. “Unfortunately many sleep approaches ignore the child’s emotions and focus on physical needs of sleep, nutrition, associations, and a behavioral approach such as controlled crying, extinction, or gradual withdrawal is put in place to fix the problem.”

Such an approach can have dire consequences that may only later become apparent. As Oscategui points out, sleep training, which may involve one or a combination of methods in a systematic approach to get a child to sleep independently, is most commonly introduced when an infant reaches four months of age or shortly thereafter. The reality, Oscategui says, is that sleep training may not even be necessary if healthy sleep hygiene foundations are established through sleep consulting before and shortly after a baby is born.

Oscategui also states that sleep consulting does not equal sleep training,” “Many child sleep consultants are not spending enough time getting to the root of a child’s sleep challenges and are jumping too quickly to implement a specific sleep training system before addressing key root issues that could be contributing to sleep disruption.”

Some of the key root issues, Oscategui says, may be medical and/or traumatic in nature and include hunger, developmental problems, sensory sensitivity, and environmental factors.

“As professionals, it is our responsibility to understand and address such fundamental areas prior to implementing any particular method,” Oscategui said. 

To illustrate her point, Oscategui observes that often times parents do not associate the fact that poor sleep habits developed prior to their baby’s arrival could also be contributing to their child’s sleep challenges after birth. When a child is experiencing sleep challenges, she says, the whole family is affected.

“That is why it is critical to address both child and adult sleep and, when possible, begin supporting healthy sleep habits during pregnancy,” Oscategui said. “As a result, IMI is the first organization to pioneer a child sleep consultant professional training program that requires its sleep consultants to address child sleep during pregnancy along with mom’s sleep.”

Caird often sees babies and young children between four months and five years who, after a period of focused hygiene foundations with supported “emotional wellbeing,” transition successfully to sleeping independently without crying involved. She has continuously observed that when the child’s emotions are well supported, that child has a much easier time adapting to its family’s needs.


Not surprisingly feedback from families Caird has worked with has been overwhelmingly positive. Most parents have confirmed that the “emotional wellbeing” component of their plan has been a key factor in helping their children sleep soundly. In fact, parents who are friends of Caird’s clients have remarked that it was “great that they could train their kids to do what they needed them to do.” To Caird’s clients, “train” is a term that misses the mark terribly when it comes to the transformation they have experienced.

What follows are two case examples of families Caird has worked with and how “emotional wellbeing” has greatly impacted and supported their children’s sleep challenges:


Age: 16 Months

Concern: Difficulty staying asleep, resisting his cot and bedroom.

Background: Jake had experienced two hospital stays in his young life, and previously his worried and sleep deprived parents had used an extinction method of sleep training that was supposed to work in three days. Jake became anxious and fearful of sleep, his cot, and bedroom; he would physically start shaking if his parents mentioned bed or anything related to sleep or his bedroom. Understandably, Jake’s parents were concerned that his fears had become deeply if not permanently entrenched.

Treatment: For the first two to three weeks, Caird and Jake’s parents worked intensely on “emotional wellbeing,” which gradually built Jake’s and his parents’ confidence before they even thought of working on independent sleep. A behavioral approach for consistency toward the end was used, and Jake’s parents were able to leave him to settle himself happily in his cot fairly soon after.

Result: Jake’s parents and Caird had allowed him to express his emotions safely and fully, in a way that was completely supported. Now, he settles happily to sleep with his special toys. He sleeps through the night confidently and happily and wakes chatting to his teddies and often laughing. Jake’s mother summed up the process in one insightful sentence: Once we had sorted out his emotions the rest just followed.

Analysis: Play strategies featured heavily in Jake’s sleep plan. Play to improve sleep? Yes—PLAY!


Age: 4 ½ years

Concern: Afraid of the dark, waking frequently in the night because he didn’t like being alone.

Background: Paul’s behavior was challenging both at home and at school. He couldn’t sit still with the other children, and he was often upset and distressed about being reprimanded at school, which worsened the situation. Moreover, Paul’s parents dreaded the thought of sleep training and predicted it would cause Paul to have angry and uncontrollable tantrums. Several attempted approaches had resulted in failure, and Paul’s parents were desperate for a solution.

Treatment: Initial trial of “emotional wellbeing” approach for one to two weeks.

Result: Paul’s gains were immediate. Within days, his behavior improved. He started to settle to sleep alone, quickly his behaviors settled and improved, and a wonderful influence on his school and learning experience was observed. Paul started to enjoy school, became an engaged pupil.

Analysis: Instead of attempting another doomed to fail behavioral approach, Paul’s emotions were addressed and he was empowered. Three months later, Paul continues to sleep well, and his teachers are congratulating his parents on how well he is doing at school.


Understanding how best to serve families is an ongoing process, and IMI is committed to playing an active role in that process. Unquestionably, the “emotional wellbeing” of every child and parent falls in line with IMI’s holistic approach and its mission. Undoubtedly, implementing this leading edge strategy will not be the last time IMI incorporates a newer, beneficial treatment.

“Without continuing education, we run the risk of endangering the very families we are helping,” Oscategui said. “As long as IMI exists, that is unacceptable.”    

About Ann Caird

Ann Caird is the founder of Nurturing Sleep baby sleep consultancy and supports families nationally and internationally with her emotional wellbeing approach to child sleep. She lives in the UK, and draws on her extensive experience, knowledge, skills and passion to further develop her unique and child centered approach to child sleep. She has 30 years’ experience working with families, babies and young children in a diverse variety of contexts, settings and roles including nanny, private maternity nurse, early childhood practitioner, postnatal doula (registered with Doula UK), Happiest Baby Educator, and child sleep consultant. She holds the UK NNEB nursery nursing qualification, 2 sleep certifications, is a graduate of the International Maternity Institute, and has a BA (distinction) in Child and Youth Studies.

About Mar Luz Oscategui

Mar Luz Oscategui, a U.S. based passionate birth visionary and pioneer is an international health, lifestyle, business coach, and educator with 17 years of experience working with individuals and groups. She is the founder of the Association for Professional Sleep Consultants, representing adult and child sleep professionals and International Maternity Institute, a holistic and progressive online education organization for birth and postpartum professionals, represented in 33 countries and is mom to two children, both born at home.

About IMI                   

The International Maternity Institute™ (IMI) provides the world’s most progressive and holistic birth professional education with evidence-based training, certification and global support for maternity and health professionals at all business stages. We are represented in 33 countries and specialize in offering individual and combined master certification programs in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

IMI’s mission is to inspire, support, and educate a global network of maternity professionals to provide exceptional service to pre-conceiving, expecting and new parents through eco-friendly initiatives, holistic and diverse educational programming, professional networking and a commitment to professionalism. IMI is accredited through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and recognized through the International Institute for Complimentary Therapists.

IMI also provides consultation services for hospitals, birthing centers, retailers, corporations, and individuals who wish to incorporate these methods into business, hospital and childbirth programs. By increasing the level of knowledge among professionals and the general public, IMI aims to be a leading authority with an integrative approach to pre-conceiving, pregnancy and post birth methods.

For more information about the International Maternity Institute, visit


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