Here are some good articles about nighttime parenting and "crying-it-out".
At six months I was nervous about leaving dd with others to put her to sleep, but my dh and I went on a date anyway and she slept for grandma. She DID NOT let grandma put her down. We are lucky to have my mom so close. My mother held her the whole time until I got home. After she turned one, we were able to set her down. Now she goes to sleep on her own many nights alone in a dark room with no crying. She's two and still nurses and I've done no sleep training besides a little bit of the pull-off technique talked about in The No Cry Sleep Solution - I haven't read much of that book but what I did read seemed like more work than I was willing to put into it. But it's probably the best most gentle sleep book out there. I felt much better about dd's sleeping back when she needed to nurse when I started telling people who'd ask, "how's she sleeping?" that "I'm well rested, so I guess she's sleeping well enough." Because I discovered that nursing her to sleep got the whole family more rest.
I think it's really important to stay true to what you feel is best for you and your family. "Other moms say nursing to sleep is bad" -- well, bad for whom? Basically it's nobody's business but yours and your baby's.
I also think that you don't need to say you'll do it just one way and stick with it. I felt guilty for a while for switching around with different techniques to get her to sleep; I thought I was "failing" to be consistent, and blamed myself for her waking up a lot and being a light sleeper. But maybe that's just the way she is. Now I figure I was just trying to find out what worked for all of us, and that was a good thing. You don't need to make yourself do anything that makes you uncomfortable, just because you said you would.
I mostly stopped nursing my daughter to sleep when she was about your baby's age, because I felt it was making her wake up more and more often in the night in order to nurse, and I was feeling crazy. But she still nurses to sleep occasionally; it's nice as a back-up plan, like when we're travelling and she's in an unfamiliar environment. We worked out some other techniques for getting her to sleep. Mostly now I just lie down on a bed next to her cot, holding her hand or stroking her back, sometimes some singing or story in a boring tone of voice. There was a time when rocking worked, but that won't do for an older child. Some people use pacifiers for going to sleep, though I think there are some health issues with that. The hard-core cry-it-out thing seems too cruel to me. Some people try a limited version of that, like leave for five minutes max. and then come back and comfort, repeat till baby is asleep. Or sit in the room but move your chair gradually towards the door. It can work for some babies, some adjust fast. But if anything you try seems like it's really traumatic for both of you, it isn't worth it.
For me it helped when my husband took over with putting the baby to sleep for a while. He developed his own way of doing it (special songs etc.), and it brought them closer together. She cried for me and wanted to nurse, especially in the beginning, but she always had somebody around who loved her. So if your husband is up for it -- or partner, mother, babysitter, whoever -- I think that's a positive way to help a baby learn alternative ways to sleep.
I want to thank you everyone. It has been a while and I am now getting him to sleep by himself. He only nurses once a day and he is happy when he falls asleep and wakes up. He is doing great!
My son always has nursed to sleep when I'm with him, but he spends a LOT of time with his dad, who is a stay-at-home dad! They had a different nap routine (and rarely nighttime) - I know that Dr. Sears was the main source of ideas and encouragement for my son's dad. Anyway, you might try having someone else put your baby down for the naps (or some of them, but regularly, so a routine can develop) as a way to make the transition smoother.