I'm trying to transition my 5-month-old from being held/worn during naps to sleeping in her crib, at least some of the time. If I hold/wear her, she will often nap at least a 60-90 minutes. If I put her down, she sleeps for 20 minutes and wakes straight up. This 20-minute pattern is consistent if she's in her bed, swing, carseat, stroller, or bedsharing with me. The only way to get her to nap longer is to nurse throughout the nap, or to wear her in a sling and bounce or walk constantly. It's like she just can't get past the first sleep cycle if she's not attached to me somehow. It's a joy to nurse and hold her, but it's getting hard to sustain for three naps a day, especially when we travel. By the way, I'm very happy with her nighttime sleep. She's very easy to get down, then sleeps around 11 hours, waking up 1-3 times to nurse, but she just eats and zonks right back out.
I've been implementing techniques from the No-Cry Nap Solution, which mostly involve routine, gradual changes and sticking-with-it. We have routines and wind-down rituals, loveys, music, white noise, swaddle - she welcomes naptime, and it's no problem getting her to sleep and transferring her to the crib - we've at least made that much progress. But 20 minutes later she's awake, no matter how much I try to anticipate and intervene.
Sometimes I feel like our entire day is spent on naptime parenting. Either I'm holding her and nursing in order to "sleep her," or I'm parenting her before, during, and after these very short catnaps. She usually starts getting sleepy about an hour after waking from these 20-minute naps, so it seems like it's always naptime at our house!
My question is this: Can you really "teach" a baby to sleep longer? Is it worth the effort? Or - be honest - are all these parenting techniques really designed to keep me feeling productive until she grows out of it?