I think there are a lot of options between what you're doing now and CIO - although I totally get why it feels so hard!! DS is 5.5mo and just recently started sleeping more than 40min at a time for his naps. I think for him it was a mixture of developmental changes and putting him on formula (not saying you should stop breastfeeding, DS has food intolerances so a bit of a different circumstance for us).
I did persist with getting him to sleep in his cot though, and I think it helped when he was developmentally ready to sleep better. I would watch for the first tired sign (blank stare/looking away, eye rub, grimacing or jerky movements) and take him straight to bed. I am a fan of wrapping/swaddling so I always do it. I use Love To Dream wraps. I would pop him in his wrap, give him a cuddle and tuck him into his cot. Then I'd sit with him/pat/rest a hand on his belly until he fell asleep.
Now I can just wrap him, tuck him in, give him a kiss and walk out - he settles himself off to sleep and has good solid naps. He's also just started sleeping through the night (7pm-6am). I do use a dummy when he wants it, but half the time he's not interested so I don't force it.
This is all based on what I was taught at Tresillian and it has worked well with both my kids who are very different personalities.
Remember that you and your belly bub are just as important as your DD so you deserve sleep/rest just as much as she does. If that means she's grumpy for a few days/weeks while you adjust her sleep habits, so be it. Start small and go at her pace, she'll get there.
And thanks cue! Your reassurance is appreciate
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