I feel like I have thought about nothing but nap training for a good month. I have been reading up on different ways to nap train and implementing many of the suggestions. But finally we are making headway (please don't let this jinx our success!) I think what is working for us now is a combination of: longer wake times between naps, a noise machine, a nap time routine, and nap extensions!
3 months ago I swore I would never do nap extensions again. When I tried it in conjunction with sleep training (meaning cry it out) my little son would hard cry for an hour or more. He would rarely get himself back to sleep, and IF he did he was so busy sucking in air (you know, like they do when they've been hard crying for an hour....) that it would disrupt his sleep and it was lousy. Plus the fact that I felt like a terrible mother for letting my son cry that hard and that much for that long. However, I was not doing the nap extensions properly. I was letting him cry to extinction instead of setting an amount of time in which I would get him if he hadn't gotten back to sleep yet.
But recently I just knew he was ready for it and I was ready to give it a try again. So I literally told him one day before his nap, "Naps are going to be one hour long now. You will stay in your crib for one hour whether you are sleeping or not". It sounds kind of silly, but it made me feel like I was expressing my expectation to him. So that nap he woke after 30 minutes (on the dot... I swear the kid has a timer in his brain) and he cried. I put in my ear phones and listened to some music while watching him on the video monitor. He cried for 15 minutes and then fell asleep. He slept another 40 minutes! YAHOO!! Not all naps have gone that way. Some have been better, less crying more sleeping... and some have been worse, more crying no sleeping. But these last two days I feel like we have made a break through. These two days he has stirred at 30 minutes and then gone right back to sleep. As I type this his nap has been 1 hour 23 minutes long with no waking at 30 minutes! I am so excited to be making forward progress!!!!