Jimmy Fallon on Fatherhood and His New Children's Book
Jimmy Fallon—The Tonight Show host and father to Winnie, 22 months, and Frances, 5 months—is showing new dads how to own baby's first word.
Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada book comes out June 9th. Why write a children's book?I loved reading to Winnie, and at the time I came up with the book it was important to me that her first word be "Dada." I went as far as to try to trick her into saying "Dada" by calling everything "Dada" from her bottle to diapers to strawberries.
Was your wife Nancy equally competitive in getting Winnie to say "Mama?"It was definitely a one-sided competition. I just thought it would be a cute story when people asked, "What was the baby's first word?" I wanted to say, "It was 'Dada'. She loves her Dada." And everyone would go "aww." But sadly, "Mama" was her first word. That's why I invented this book, so hopefully other dads can trick their kids.
To borrow from your Tonight Show character Sara, what about newborns makes you go "ew?" They vomit a lot. For a second I thought I needed to rename my first Linda Blair and hire a priest, because she was spitting up so much.
What's the wildest thing about being a parent?That people think they can talk to you about poop. "Oh, you have a new baby? Is she sleeping? Is she pooping?" Normally I'd be blushing, but as a parent you just get used to it, and pooping is just another verb in your vocabulary.
You and your wife are BFFs with Drew Barrymore, and she also has daughters. Do you compare notes?All the time. Since hers are a little older, we ask: "What are you doing with your girls? Flash cards? Oh, did we miss out on that? What are flash cards?" Or "Do I really need the baby to speak Mandarin?" If she starts speaking Mandarin then I've got to get myself a tutor just so I can understand my own baby.
From first-time dad to now, what parenting skill have you improved on the most?As simple as it sounds, just holding a baby. When we first had Winnie I would squeeze her really tight and close to me like I was holding a football running for a touchdown.
What's the last thing one of your girls did that made you laugh?I play this song on the guitar that I made up that goes: "I'm dancin', I'm dancin', I'm dance-dance-dance-dance-dancin'" and Winnie just spins around in a circle until she gets dizzy and almost falls, which is funny, but it's also becoming dangerous.
If you were going to write a thank you note to your daughters, like you do on your show, what would it say?Thank you Winnie and Franny for making me believe that I could make my own baby food. Hope you like your beet and Swiss chard pudding. It's made with love.
Did you think you'd be the type of dad who'd be sharing your kids' pictures or did you vow you'd never be that guy?I thought I'd never be that annoying person, but as soon as Winnie was born I was showing iPhone snaps to a cab driver.
What are you looking forward to sharing most with your girls?I want to teach them everything I've ever learned. I'm going to teach them what a vinyl record is, and I can't wait for them to eat their first meatballs. I look forward to vacations and family time. I'm going to be that nerdy dad, like, "Okay kids, let's back up the RV, and here we go!" They'll be like, "Dad, leave us alone. You're such a nerd.
Which Tonight Show guest would you trust most to babysit your girls?Probably Will Ferrell. He's a good dad with great kids and he'd be a super-fun babysitter.
What's challenging about dadhood that you didn't think would be?Putting together all of the gear. I broke a sweat assembling some Swiss egg-shaped high chair for Winnie that looked like a piece of art.
What do you think all moms should know about the father-daughter bond?Moms should know that even the manliest guys will become softies when they have daughters. Dads immediately fall in love with their little girls, and will let them get away with everything. So moms are going to have to be the disciplinarians when it comes to daughters.
Do your girls wear hand-me-down clothes?Oh, yeah, I have all of my nieces and nephews' clothes. And all the gifts we get from celebrities we're giving to different charities like Baby Buggy and Toys for Tots. So it's kind of hilarious because we're giving away things like Hermí¨s booties. So not only is your baby going to be dressed, but she's going to be dressed like a Kardashian!
Interview by Patty Adams Martinez
Image courtesy of NBC/James White