We're struggling with an issue, and we're desperate for help. We co-sleep, and my partner has been nursing our just-turned 3-year old daughter to sleep. She also had been waking and nursing throughout the night. In the last few months, our daughter has been demanding to nurse throughout the day with the demands coinciding with emotionally trying moments or transitions in the day (e.g., when the two of us are talking with each other, when she's tired and frustrated, or when my partner returns home after being out.) Her demands are intense; she moves into hysteria quickly if my partner tries to negotiate with her about delaying for even a few moments. She rejects offers for other forms of comfort or attention. Things changed, though, a couple of weeks ago. We had a night where my partner couldn't sleep in our bed with our daughter, so I comforted her to sleep through a couple of spells of serious crying. My partner had a stomach virus and had been sick all night. Our daughter had been sick the night before and had discovered that nursing led to vomiting, so she cried through not nursing and went to sleep. For several nights after this, without prompting our daughter went to sleep after nursing, though with some crying. She also stopped all day nursing altogether. Over the last week or so, she has returned to demanding to nurse during the day. She also refuses to go to sleep unattached and enters a state of utter hysteria if my partner tries to urge her to have some milk and then be snuggled to sleep. We've discussed our desire to help both of them sleep better by not nursing to sleep. My partner had discovered that they both sleep much, much better if our daughter doesn't nurse all night.
So, we're struggling to know how to help them. We've read accounts here of children self-choosing not to nurse, and we've approaching this from the belief that the two of them could make the decision not to nurse anymore when our daughter was ready and could make that decision herself. But the latest events have underscored that the nighttime nursing is no longer sustainable for them both, even though our daughter's emotional needs clearly seem to be demanding it. My partner is at wits end, and that is exacerbated by being so tired. We're also concerned with providing our daughter with stability, attachment and healthy comfort. Being dad, I don't participate directly in their nursing relationship, and I'm trying to be supportive, but at this point, I don't know how to help them. We'd appreciate any advice you might be able to offer.