I am due with my first in March. My husband and I are planning to move from Arizona to Florida this June. We are at a crossroads on wether to drive as a family or have me and baby fly while he drives the truck. He is concerned about crowds at the airport and the cabin pressure harming the baby. I am concerned that spending all day in the carseat is not good for the baby. Having to stop every couple hours will also drag out the drive. And advice? is there an expert who can weigh in on this topic?
Anecdotally, our experience of flying with a three month old infant (which we've tried twice; or one round-trip) has been very smooth.
Yes, crowded airports may be a concern. We tried to find calm areas while waiting for our flight. Check your specific airport, there are sometimes designated nursing lounges. During boarding, we had her facing inwards in a baby carrier, so she was somewhat screened off from the outside world.
Yes, pressure changes during take off and landing, and also cabin temperature changes, may also be a concern. If breastfeeding works out for you and your baby, I'd recommend that throughout take off and landing. If not, bring a feeding bottle or pacifier. Sucking on something may help the baby equalize pressure. And ask for blankets, make sure to keep your baby warm during the flight.
The upsides are that you get to sit with your baby in your lap, and feed them, play with them or walk around with them as needed, as opposed to sitting strapped to a car seat for hours on end with inhibited means of interaction.
My impression is that a very long car ride would be a much more strenuous experience for a small infant. Plan for several and long breaks along the way. The only upside I see to the car option is that the whole family will be together, which means perhaps you can take the time for those long stops and make the entire ride enjoyable.
I'm reading March to June as a three month interval, which is well beyond the restrictions most airline carriers put on flying with infants. If you're due late March, and moving early June, and if you happen to go a few weeks over due, you may be looking at moving with an infant only shy over a month, in which case the parameters may be different. If it turns out you'll have to deliver with a C-section, for instance, chances are you're not strong enough for such a trip on your own so soon after. With very young small infants, the airline may decline entry, and even if you're allowed, being shielded off from contagions will be a greater concern. You'll be moving in summer, so flu and cold season won't be an issue, but factor in that you may not be keen to expose your child to a lot of strangers.
If you decide to go by plane, buy cancellable tickets. Accept that the immediate first months of life are unpredictable, and especially if you're considering it from before you've even had your child, it may well be that you simply have very different feelings one way or the other after the birth. Always keep the door open for other options and plan for the ability to change your mind, whatever your initial plan is.
Small infants cannot sit, you want them to be able to lie down. Even in a regular car seat/baby carrier they should not sit for more than an hour.
For the first six months (including two 14 hour car trips, including stops every few hours) we had a lie-flat car seat. Worked like a charm.
If lying down is possible during the flight, go for it, but I would prefer driving. Because if anything happens, you can just stop and get out.