I felt awkward sometimes at the playground or wherever when other babies didn't have one but whatever, it's a very short stage. L likes his soothers and it's clear they make him happy but when he doesn't see them it's rare (during the day) that he seeks them out.
I'm starting to feel a bit like this with my almost 2 yr old and his beloved bottle of milk (as in bottle with a nipple, not a sippy cup). Neither of my kids would take a soother and Elliot just didn't seem to need anything at all to settle, but Thomas loves loves LOVES his milk ... in a bottle, with a nipple. At his 1 yr apt our ped said we should cut out the bottles by 15 mos but he gets so much enjoyment out of it we haven't been hard asses about having him make the switch to a cup. We've tried a few different styles, but he usually hands them back to us. He will take water out of any type of cup / straw, but milk must be in the bottle. At what age does it start to look weird? I dropped Elliot off at camp on Monday and there was a 4 year old there with a bottle of milk - to me that was weird... I suddenly had visions of Thomas being dropped at school with milk and started thinking whoa - maybe we'd better get on making the switch sooner than later lol.
It's so great to hear your take with multiple kids! We are the same, we feel it's only a few years of more intense night-time involvement and then it tapers off and you have your nights back (until the next baby). That said if L showed any inclination to sleep on his own we would run with it, before we moved him into our room this week because of the lack of AC in his room he was showing he was ready to fall asleep on his own, unfortunately it seems to have no correlation with being able to fall back asleep on his own at night yet, we've had some rough nights, first due to ear infection/sickness, now due to him wanting to go downstairs/outside in the middle of the night.
Elliot did really well with the transition - both from crib to toddler bed and toddler bed to his big boy bed. He was almost 3 when Thomas came along so he was fully able to understand the reasons why he needed to sleep in his own bed and call out to us. He didn't put up much of a fuss at all. I can see it being a problem if you have your kids closer in age and the older one is still too young to understand the reasoning, but for us it was a non-issue.
Thomas used to be terrific at putting himself to sleep - we'd sit with him in the rocker, read a story while he drank some milk, he would often point to his crib - you'd throw him in and walk away. But somewhere along the line he stopped doing that - i think it was when we went on vacation in April, and since then we can still put him in his bed fully awake, but he says "chair" meaning he wants us to sit in the chair and sing to him until he's asleep, so we've been doing that to keep him happy.