My 12 month old has currently been napping for an hour and a half, independently on our bed. I nursed him to sleep and rolled away. He is not always taking long, independent naps these days, but it is happening more and more.
This is a baby who had to be held or worn for months for every nap. From months 6 through 11, I could not even put him down on the bed beside me. I have never done anything to encourage him to sleep in bed. I held him or wore him when he needed it, and ever since he started nursing, we have nursed for sleep.
I used to worry that I was creating bad sleep habits or doing us both a disservice by not cultivating more varied tools to help him learn independent sleep. But now I know that nothing I have done has created bad sleep habits. New tools work when he is ready for a new tool, not because I have decided he needs one. His sleep shifts and changes in ways I do not expect, cannot always predict, or can even figure out as it is happening. I help him with sleep and still his sleep develops and matures.
There is peace and beauty in watching him grow up on his own terms. This is the peace and beauty of waiting it out.
(Originally posted in slightly different form in my sleep support group, July 2013.)