The tl;dr version:
The father can get a toddler to sleep easily, but the mother struggles. Has anyone else experienced this and if so, what strategies were used to overcome it?
We have an 18 month old son who nurses twice per day. He's been going to a daycare from the time he's been 15 months old. I drop him off in the morning at around 07:45 and my wife picks him up after he eats lunch at around 13:00. He seems really happy there (based on our observations, the reports from the workers, and the excitement he gets when he arrives there), but since he started there, he hasn't consistently napped.
Since he was about 8 months, I have been solely responsible for putting him to bed at night. He and I developed a nice routine and he would go to bed and fall asleep without fuss 99% of the time. At that time, my wife would get him to nap by nursing him. In preparation for the daycare transition, my wife slowly reduced the nursing sessions to twice per day: once in the morning before breakfast and once in the evening before supper.
Now he won't nap except for on the weekends when I'm there. Recently I took a two week vacation from work in the hope that I would be able to help get him some much-needed naptime and then transition him over to his mother for naps once a routine was established. During those two weeks he slept great during the day, but now that I'm back at work, he won't nap. He just screams and screams and screams as soon as his mother puts him into his crib no matter what she does. He'll scream for 1.5 hours and then my wife will go and get him. In the early days of this, she would then get him to nap either by lying down with him and then by taking him for a drive in the car. He would usually fall asleep right away, but she can't then transition him back to his crib.
What we've tried:
My wife has tried to adopt and adapt our routine to no avail. She's tried to develop a routine completely different from mine. None of this works. The only way our son will nap is in the car or sleeping (and nursing) in our bed with his mother. Neither of these options are optimal.
Has anyone else experienced this circumstance. Is it just to do with differences in the ways that we've interacted with our son? It's starting to make my wife crazy and very upset. It's obviously difficult to hear your son who you love scream for an hour and despite my protests, she inevitably sees it as somehow being her fault. Of course, it isn't but that's hard to accept. If anyone manages to read through this, I'd be interested to know if anyone else has experienced anything similar to this and if so, what they've done to cope. Or if anyone has a theory about what might be behind this, I'm all ears!