Ok, so we're not having as much luck as I thought (possibly not helped by a growth spurt!)!
Firstly, I'm finding it very difficult to get him settled before I begin the ssh pat. I've been taking him into our dark room (with white noise on) and trying to sit quietly with him but he just gets really upset and starts crying and kicking his legs around if I sit still holding him. I'm fairly sure he's not UT as whilst crying he rubs his eyes and I was hoping he wasn't OT as I try and take him into the bedroom before I start really seeing the tired cues during the A time. I'm doing this 'getting ready for nap' generally after 1hr15-20mins awake. I end up holding him across my body (so he can kick his legs out without hitting me!) with his face towards me and have to gently shake him in order to get him to calm down (sometimes I also have to give him my little finger to suck). I'm worried I'm creating a bad habit by using the movement to calm him down!
My next dilemna is that I struggle to work out when the right time is to transfer him to his bed to begin ssh pat. I've found when I transfer him when he's still awake and calm, but his eyes are starting to close, that he just wakes crying as soon as I put him in his bed. So instead I've been waiting til he is almost asleep, but then I think he's learning to sleep on me rather than settle himself?
What should I do if I can't get him to nap at all? The other day I tried for over an hour to get him to nap (he was utterly exhausted by this point!) but he was just too upset and OT. I ended up taking him downstairs and giving him so A time (which actually cheered him up). I then did E at his scheduled time and tried to get him to sleep slightly earlier than his next scheduled nap as he was so tired - was that the right approach? I don't really know how to deal with missed naps and how to handle our schedule when it gets out of sync during the day! Another example is this morning. The schedule should have been:
However, he ended up napping for longer than usual and instead it went:
1000 S (still)
1100 S was supposed to be activity but I had to drive us home (we'd been out while he had his nap) so he fell asleep
1145 A (two quick feeds during this time)
So he's now missed his 1300 feed and is still sleeping, although he did have two snack feeds during the activity time. Was I right to try and put him down at 1300 as he'd missed his 1130 nap? He went to sleep quite easily (but again I had to rock him and let him suck my thumb before I did ssh pat in his bed).
perhaps I have my timings all wrong in the evening and should be bringing the Bath/Massage later and trying to get him to nap better before he has them?Most of what you are aiming for looks okay. That evening part though which you asked about, it looks like he is getting those 2 CNs (that's okay, you do need to get out and about sometimes and you can't always get a full nap in the car) but then staying awake after the second CN all the way to BT. This is very long, 5.15pm to 7.30pm is 2hr 15 activity time. If he appears okay with this and sleeps well at night then maybe you don't need to change anything but if he is grouchy or starts having NWs then they are signs he is OT at BT. Waking early in the morning can also indicate OT at BT. You could consider another nap at 6.15pm to 6.45pm and he might still go down at 7.30pm for BT. Thos last A times would then be on the short side but they are between CNs so he is not fully rested anyway. They are short naps to prevent OT.
So being OT could be the reason he's waking at 5am rather than going through longer? Interesting. I'd assumed he woke then because he was hungry as he usually takes a very long (40min) feed at this time of the morning. I think I need to tweak the routine. He now seems to want to wake at 5am and 7am (I'd been hoping for 7:30am) but I'm wondering if 7am is just his natural wakeup time and if I should work around him. I do struggle with the evening routine, partly because I find that after his bath/massage he does need a feed to send him to sleep (so we do EAES rather than EAS) and I don't want to bring the bath time forward too early as my husband desperately tries to get home from work to do that. I'm happy to play around with his schedule a bit although I do need a 45min sleep in there somewhere as I have to go and see my horse every evening and DS inevitably falls asleep in the car and whilst I'm at the stables (totalling 45mins) but as soon as I bring him in the house he wakes up, so I can't ever get a longer sleep at that time!
Any suggestions how I could plan my evening if I were to change so he fed at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm (bed for 7:30) - I just need a 45min cat nap in there somewhere after 4pm!
Thank you so much for your help! It's really invaluable in helping me put into practice what I've read!