My 18 month old sleeps on a mattress on the floor. We co-slept until he was ~8months and then switched him to his own bed for both naps and nighttime. He has done very well with this arrangement until a couple of weeks ago. For naps, I have always nursed him all the way to sleep. At night, DH rocks him to sleep. We have roughly the same routine beforehand: preparing the room (closing the blinds, turning on his sound machine, etc), reading books, and then settling in to nurse or rock.
I am now 26 weeks pregnant and my milk has all but dried up, so even though DS would still nurse to sleep (he seems not to have noticed the lack of milk....) I can't do it for that long any more. It's too painful for me. Even so, I don't want him to wean completely yet as he doesn't quite seem ready for it.
Without nursing to sleep, I'm having a hard time finding a way to help him gently settle down for nap. I offer to rock him or lay down with him and snuggle, but without nursing, he just wiggles or asks to nurse over and over. I've tried simply closing the door to his room and laying down for a nap myself hoping he'll join me when he gets tired. And forcing him to lay down just results in screaming. My "last resorts" have been to give up on the idea of a nap and try sending him to bed early (But then poor DH has to deal with a grouchy mess of a toddler) and leaving the room after giving DS a heads-up one minute beforehand.
Every time I've left the room while he's still awake, he has screamed for nearly an hour. His screams sound more angry than sad, but it still goes against every bone in my body to just leave him to cry like that. I do it when I'm at my wit's end and the only thing I can say about it is that it does result in a nap. After an hour of screaming. Checking on him, even just to let him know that I'm still here/ make sure he's not hurting himself, starts the clock over. It's more agitating for him than just being left alone.
The last thing I tried, that I would like to avoid if possible, was to drag out the pack n play and have him nap in that. He was very tired by that point and it took him about 10 minutes to fall asleep once in there.
The pack n play sounds great, right? It does, although DS is a big, tall guy for 18 months and he doesn't really fit in there anymore. I also worry about him waking and trying to climb out on his own. Plus, I really love the independence he's found with the floor bed and how well he sleeps on it (once he actually goes to sleep!)
So, what would you do in this situation? Better yet, anyone BTDT? Any sage advice?