I have been nursing my 19 month old son down for naps since day 1. We have a new bedtime routine and he is FINALLY going to sleep at night without nursing, although he still has a bit of protest on occasion. I have been able to put him down for his naps pretty consistently since he was about a year, when I left my full time away from home job. At that time and for a few months after, he was going down for naps just fine with my mom who was watching him full time for me. She has still been watching him a few hours a day a few days a week, but he will no longer go down for naps with her unless he is taken on a car ride. I also have a problem with him sometimes, he is tired but still won't nurse to sleep and I have to take him in the car. I am returning to work outside the home for a few hours a day, and will be back by around 2pm. He needs to be down for his nap between 1130-1230 so that it doesn't mess up the rest of his and our schedule. I don't want my mom to have to let him cry, but I've told her if she has to put him in the pack and play and stay with him, let him cry a few minutes that it might be ok. It breaks my heart and I don't believe in it, but he is so miserable and even gets violent when he won't take a nap.
Rocking, singing, reading, dark rooms, nothing else works. He has been a crappy sleeper from Day 1.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
Congrats on adjusting him to bedtime without needing to nurse! I have had a similar struggle to you with the nap times. My son just turned 25 months. A few months ago, I was at my wit's end with naptimes. He still needs them badly, and will sleep a solid 2-3 hours when he finally does nap, but getting him there was becoming more and more problematic. From day one I've always nursed him to sleep for naps, but by around 21-22 months, he started getting to the point where he'd not fall asleep, want to get back up and play, simply nurse for an hour straight, etc. I would get really frustrated because, as you mention, when they don't nap or nap hours later than the normal time it will throw off the entire rest of the day and evening.
Finally I just started doing what I thought I'd never do: leave him in his room and let him work it out. It has been really amazing, because almost every day since then, he cries for MAYBE 1-2 minutes and then is out like a light. I think we were getting to a point where he just needed me out of the room to settle down enough to fall asleep, but I wasn't getting the message. Finally, I realized I needed to get out of my own way. So now we go to his room after lunch, at 1pm, and I nurse him on each side, and give him advance notice like "this is the last one and then mommy will leave and you will go to sleep". Then when he has had enough nursing, I cover him and walk out with as little drama as possible. Listening on the baby monitor, I hear that he pitches a short fit, but will quickly roll over and fall fast asleep. I think the part that helps us here is that we are really regular about it -- he knows what to expect and when. Maybe my experience will help you? Good luck!! It's rough, I remember that all too well (and we still have our bad days).
Proud mom of an inquisitive, breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping 9 month old boy and a talkative curious 4 year old girl.