I wish there was a straight answer but there is not. Seemed none of our kids were nappers. Our oldest had colic until he was six months old, and I know that is why he wouldn't take naps. At night he would not go down on his own, and my husband and I got into the habit of rocking him to sleep. Once he was out, he didn't wake up 'til about six in the morning. Miles and Ashley are just 17 months (and three days) apart, so when she was about to make her debut, we knew we needed to get Miles to go down on his own at night. About that same time, there was a segment on 20/20 about how to get your baby down at night. Most of the little ones on this show were younger than Miles, and so we decided to try it. They said it could take about two weeks. Let me tell you that was one of the hardest two weeks! We would get Miles ready for bed, and lovingly put him into his crib, and quietly shut the door. OH MY! He would cry and cry, and I would stand outside that door and cry and cry. I HATED it! After so long the first few days, you were to go in and reassure him, which we did. Then after a few days, taper that down until you are not doing that anymore, which we did. Eventually he did quiet down, get himself all comfy and fall off to la la land. Miles is now our best sleeper and has been since this time. I can remember when we would go out on a date and leave the children with a babysitter, when we would come back she would always be concerned about Miles. "I'm not sure Miles feels too well. About 7:00 or so, he just went upstairs and went to bed" she would say. We would just laugh, and tell her, that when Miles gets tired, he just goes to bed.
Now for Miss Ashley. OH MY!!!! She has never and still is not a good sleeper. She has a hard time turning her brain off. When she was little (just under a year), we had an extra bed in her room. I can remember putting her to bed and then laying down on that bed. She was in her crib, but I would lay down on that other bed....BIG mistake. Oh well.... But anyway, when I thought she was alseep, I would quietly get out of that bed, and tip toe toward the door. She would all of the sudden jump up and look at me. Ug! This would go on for quite awhile. Eventually, when she was old enough to talk to about this, we told her she was a big girl, and that she needed to lay down and go to sleep. She was ok with that, sorta. I can remember when she was about four, she had a day bed with a trundle. Grandma was visiting and slept in the trundle. Ashley tossed and turned one night, and finally sat up and said to Grandma, "I can't ever get to sleep." My mom has always had the same issue and they talked a bit. Ashley told her she just can't quit thinking. Mom told her she knew how she felt, and that just lay there and eventually she would go to sleep. As an adult, Ashley teaches Yoga, and I think this may have helped her to sleep a bit better.
As far as naps. Ashley quit taking naps at a VERY early age. She would just all of the sudden conk out. I would find her laying down in the middle of the room asleep among her toys. When she got older, about two or three, again old enough to reason with, I made her go to her bed. She could have her dolls in there with her, but she needed to at least go to her bed. Sometimes she would fall asleep. I have the cutest little video of her sitting in bed talking to her dolls. In this video she stands up and starts singing as if she was on Broadway. Sure wish I could post it.
Then there is our handsome little Mr. Scott. He always had a smile on his face. By the time he was born, I was out running around taking Miles and Ashley to school and their other activities. Scott was born when Miles was six, and Ashley was three. He was born just about a month after we moved to Wilmington, NC. Not only was I running the other kids to their places they needed to go, but I was also unpacking, and so, Scott pretty much got his naps in the car. In the afternoons when it was time to get Miles from school, we would pile in the car and before we could got off our very short street, Scott was sawin' logs....zzzzzzzzzzzzz.....By the time we got back home, he was usually awake. Sometimes, I was able to quietly get him out of his car seat, up the stairs and into his bed, but not usually. Today, Scott still doesn't not sleep too well. He is one that seems to be up all night, and then is always tired. He is a college student, so maybe when he gets out of school and has a real job, he will figure it out.
Now for our Baby Ben...Not so much of a baby anymore! Benjamin took his naps like Scott did. Scott and Benjamin are 20 months apart, so again, very close in age. Once Benjamin made his arrival, I was really in the taking kids here and there mode. It was the same thing...In the afternoon when I needed to pick Miles and Ashley up from school, Scott and Benjamin would get their best naps. Sleeping from the time we left our street, in line waiting for the kids to get out of school, and on our way home; usually waking up as we hit the driveway. Sometimes, though, I was able to carry BOTH of them from their car seats, up the stairs and into their beds. Sometimes, I would just grab a book or something to work on and open the car doors and sit on the porch keeping an eye on them as the slept. Usually that was during the Spring or Summer, since it was not too hot or cold.
Well, hope this helps her out, and maybe helps other young mothers. The bottom line is, well, there just is not answer. Some children are good nappers, other's are not. I hear a lot of parents brag about how well their children nap, and that they trained them to nap. I'm not sure how accurate that is. Some people are just good sleepers. Take my mom for instance, to this day she takes a daily "power" nap. For about 15 minutes everyday, she takes a short nap. If she does not get her nap in, she suffers greatly. Me...? Well, I CANNOT nap. Once I lay down, that is it, I am gone 'til the next day. If I am able to take a short nap, then I am tired for the remainder of the day...so no nap for me, and I was an excellent napper as a child (and do sleep very well at night...)
So, to all you mothers of young children, you will figure it out, and remember each child is an individual, no two are alike, so neither are their sleeping habits.