Q&A: adjusting to naps with caregiver

Apparently this is "sleep problems and single parenting" week. Here's a question that combines both. Kay writes:

"very soon i'm going to have to go back to work (sigh. sigh.).  my daughter just turned a year old, and to say sleep isn't always her thang would be an understatement.  i've gotten used to our schedule/routine for sleep, but soon she'll be taking her naps with someone else.  the only thing that works for us is for me to nurse her down in bed, then roll away.  almost like clockwork, she wakes after 30 minutes, and if i'm close by i can nurse her back down to sleep again.  i've tried rocking, patting, pacifiers, etc. - she wants the real deal, nipple action!  she only takes one nap these days (1-2 hrs when i'm right there), so naptime is a one-shot deal now. if this matters, she does something similar at night, with frequent wakings to nurse (we co-sleep).  and i'm not into CIO, though i say that with NO judgment to others.

okay, so my point is....  how is someone else, someone who she doesn't even know well, going to get her to sleep???  i feel like i need to establish a new routine BEFORE i just throw her into this kind of mix, but don't know where to start.  i've read previous posts about sending in the other parent, etc, but i'm a 100% single parent.  i seriously lay in bed (while she's asleep!) thinking about this over and over.  it's bad enough to feel like i'm leaving her with someone else, much less knowing that she could be crazy sleep deprived.  she is SO active (started walking at 9.5 months and now just goes and goes), but she does not konk out when she's super tired - she just gets more ramped.

in respect to the tension-releaser vs builder, she is a very determined (and lovely) toddler who seems able to cry for long periods of time (the couple of times i've sat in the room and tried to get her to sleep in her crib).  aaaaahhh, it just makes me want to rack up my credit cards so i never have to go back to work until she's in preschool!  i would be so grateful for any suggestions you or your readers (especially single parents) have."

Your guys know I always say "You're the best parent for your child." I mean it, and if it's the one thing I hope anyone ever takes away from this site that's it.

But there's another half to that. Which is that you're the only you there is. Your child is going to react to you in a way that s/he doesn't react to anyone else in the world. That's great in some ways--you'll be the one who gets hugs and kisses and a special kind of love. But sometimes it can feel like you're the only one who can do things.

Your child, though, knows who you are, and that no one else is you. And your child doesn't expect anyone else to be you. Your child can form meaningful rituals and bonds with other people.

At moments of big change, like starting day care, it can feel like you'll be helping everyone if you become the facilitator of those rituals. But it's not your job to create a relationship between your child and someone else, just to set the stage to allow it to happen.

What I'm saying is that whoever cares for your child will come up with a way to get her to nap. She may not like not being able to nurse to sleep anymore, but she'll adjust to going down for a nap with her caregiver, and she'll probably still want the nurse-and-roll-away from you on weekends. But it's not your job to come up with a new routine for your caregiver to follow. Your daughter probably wouldn't accept it from you anyway, and why make tension between you right before you have to change something in her life?

Let the new caregiver come up with the plan that works for them. You stay you, being the mother and doing the mothering that you do when you're with her.

And it's going to be OK going back to work. Unless it's not, in which case you'll figure out something that you can live with. At this age everything changes so quickly that what doesn't work now could be perfect in three months, and vice versa.

Now, in the comments section I need tales of children who will only sleep one way for you, but can go down a different way with someone else. I'll start: My younger son does not like to take a nap when I put him down, and will keep making excuses for me to come back (the whole "I need some water" routine). But he goes down easily with his babysitter, who created a routine involving a "tuck-tuck" (which I assume has something to so with tucking the blankets in around him) that he sometimes requests at times when she's not there.

Anyone else have anything to share? We're assuming she's getting a competent caregiver who's got her own bag of tricks to get Kay's daughter to nap.