My DS has nursed to sleep and coslept his entire life. We're coming up on his first birthday this month, and lately, sleep has been very difficult. For most of his life, sleep was easy - take him into the bedroom when he showed signs of tiredness, lay down and nurse, and bam, out in 10 minutes. Now it takes ages to get him down for a nap or bedtime. He wants to talk, play, blow raspberries on my boobs, fiddle with my necklace, pick at my clothes or the sheets... He's recently discovered things have names and he can ask what they are, and he'll spend ages pulling off, pointing to my nipple, and saying "Dat? Dat? Dat?" and then laughing hysterically when I say "Those are boobies, that's where milk comes from." When he tires of that, he'll pull on my ear/nose/lips, and then pull on his own corresponding body part with a giant grin, like, "Look! I know what ears are! This is so much more exciting than going to bed!" When he finally agrees to chill out and nurse and get sleepy, (after like 30 minutes of this), sometimes he'll eventually pull off, roll over, and do weird baby things with his hands until he falls asleep on his own. God forbid I move during this process, though, or he's right back to playing again.
In addition to learning to communicate with words, he's also just gotten the hang of walking. He's also breaking in 4 new teeth right now.
So, is he just learning how to go to sleep on his own in a developmentally appropriate way, or is this just some weird phase related to what he's currently going through?
It might help if you create a bedtime habit for him that helps him wind down and relax. Maybe a brief session of playing followed by a snack, a bath, then a massage with lotion and finally a cuddle in bed with a story. That works for many but you'll have to see what helps your little one relax and shift into bedtime mode best.
We went through crazy bedtime weirdness around 1 year. I think they're just going through so much that they just have a harder time settling. It's nice that he's so happy throughout. Just roll with it and see what happens. Even 30 minutes doesn't sound too bad (it would take me an hour, sometimes more, to get her settled around that age). One thing that really helped us work out the bedtime struggles was to drop her morning nap. Up until about 13 months she was taking 2 naps of over an hour each (sometimes both over 2 hours) a day and I just don't think she was as tired anymore at bedtime. Not sure if that is applicable to your situation, but it really helped her settle down faster at bedtime.
There's this great book that I heard about called The Wonder Weeks, which describes the sleep regressions in infancy and gives you reasons for them. Sounds like your little guys is at the 55 week regression described here:
I think this website is really helpful because it puts it all into perspective. My 6.5 year was a TERRIBLE sleeper for the first 2.5 years and this information somehow kept me sane. I bet this phase evens out soon once he's got it all figured out and he goes back to falling asleep easily.