Car seats are not only designed to protect your child during a crash, but also help reduce the force of impact on their shoulders. While many car seat manufacturers recommend leaving the shoulder pads in place, it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of removing them.
Most infant car seats have pads that are designed to keep the harness straps in the correct position on your child's shoulders, helping ensure proper and safe installation. They can also add extra comfort for your baby, especially in warmer weather. If you have plush pads and your child has outgrown them, removing them may be beneficial.
Typically, the shoulder pads are designed to make it easier for you to tighten the harness and secure the chest clip in a way that's easy to do with one hand. They also often feature energy absorbing foam to lessen the force of an accident and prevent friction burn on your child.
If you're deciding to remove the shoulder pads, check the manufacturer guidelines and inspect the car seat regularly to ensure your child is still within the weight or height limits of the seat. It's also a good idea to consult your pediatrician if you're unsure.
Removing the pads is also a great way to keep the harness straps clean. Just be sure to wipe down any fabrics with a mild soap and hang dry them. For any plastic or metal components, you should use a damp cloth and gently scrub, then rinse and dry.