I wholeheartedly agree with sere!!! Forget other people's kids - your babe is unique and marches to the beat of her own drummer. You are a great mama to be riding the roller coaster with her!
DS is JUST starting to get into a bedtime routine, and he just turned 1 this month. Prior to that, we still did the same bedtime routine, in theory like this...1.) get everything together for bed, lock doors, etc., 2.) brush teeth, 3.) go potty, 4.) get diaper on (with distraction song - he's fiesty!), 5.) family snuggles in bed, 6.) read book, 7.) turn off light and listen to glo-worm music, 8.) tell him everyone was going to sleep (and name mama, daddy, pets, etc.), 9.) nurse down to sleep (sometimes with me humming or singing).
That is only just now beginning to go according to plan, haha (and believe me - it's still very novel - I don't really know what to do with myself when there isn't a battle now!). Prior to, hmm, this week, we had to deal with alot of baby wrangling - when he was younger, fussing and flipping, then crawling off the bed, yelling/babbling loudly, now he tries to jump off the bed, etc.
Here are a few things that I learned or helped me - hope something here helps you, too!
- Energy - My son is very energetic and has trouble slowing his body down. The calmer we can make things for him (turning off TV, speaking quietly/minimally) early on the better - sometimes it still takes a while to mellow.
- Bathtime - a bath before bed is NOT calming for him - it just riles him up! He wants to play in the bath, run around afterward and he is wired. I could NOT understand this until I read Raising Your Spirited Child - she points out that bathtime raises core body temperature, and for some kids, that energizes them instead. Now we do baths way earlier, before dinner - much better!
- Transitions - DS also has trouble with transitions - so the more I explain ahead of time, the smoother things go ("In ten minutes/after we complete this activity/etc. we will do x, y, z and go to bed" - then repeat as we accomplish each step - you will feel silly, but babies understand alot more than we give them credit for, and really do appreciate the heads up! We've done this since he was tiny - and when I forget, boy does he let me know it!)
- Timing - There is a very small window of sleepiness to capitalize on before he gets overtired and fussy or overtired and wired. In the book I mentioned, she says it's usually about 15 minutes long. Some other signs (beside eye rubbing or glassy stare) are slowed/clumsy movements, falling down, etc. DS has a distinct "sleepy cry."
- Pottying/EC - we started doing this when DS was 9 months old. Prior to our most recent break-throughs, offering him the potty before bed was THE BIGGEST game changer!!! Alot of his hyperactivity and bedtime gymnastics was simply due to the fact that he had to pee, and probably was afraid of having to sleep in a wet dipe all night. EC (especially part-time or occasional) is really not as crazy or labor intensive as it sounds - it's definitely worth a shot! DS took to it like a fish to water - I actually just put him on a potty on a lark, and he went immediately. We were hooked after that.
- Babywearing - if, after the entire routine and offering potty a couple times, DS still refused to sleep, I would put him in the carrier, take him into our dark living room, and sing/hum to him while dancing. Sometimes this took a few minutes for him to fall asleep - sometimes, it took nearly an hour. But it usually worked...eventually. That way, at least the routine still signified sleep. Babywearing on walks was good for naps.
- Irregularity - Raising Your Spirited Child covers this alot - and how to frame it positively (would be great support for you!) She also has a sort-of sleep training method to get your kid on a schedule, but think it would work best with older children.
Sending you lots of hugs! DS still needs my help going down for naps, but just recently started doing that easier, too (used to be a similar battle - when he was a babe, I would say it was like wrestling a lil alligator!!!).