Despite Mamma clocking in more time, “Dada” was the first word out of the mouths of both of my kids. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a little pride in that. (If it doesn't seem fair, let me point out that my son was born on my wife's birthday, and my daughter, two years later, arrived the day before Mother's Day.)
With Dada, the host of the Tonight Show and father of 22-month-old Winnie and 6-month-old Frances wages a secret campaign, enlisting the help of a disgruntled pig, a serious horse, a mad cow, a patient frog, and a host of other barnyard daddies to own up to the title’s promise. Why take the bull by the horns in print? “I tried everything, but Winnie’s first word was still ‘Mama,’” Fallon told People magazine this week. He’s got another chance with his second child, but spoiler: At the end of the book, Baby Duck rebels—“quack!”—so Franny may follow suit!
To be honest, though, both times for me it just naturally happened. With all the heartwarming daily milestones reached by an infant, combined with sleepless nights, round-the-clock feedings and changings, et cetera, I’m usually way too overwhelmed with being overwhelmed to attend to vainglorious achievements. There’s little opportunity to craft a plan.
But Fallon, this time, has help from the “opposition,” wife Nancy Juvonen. It seems the producer (and babies’ mama) is Team Dada! According to People, Fallon says she drops frequent asides to the baby, such as “Mama loves you but Dada does too,” and, “Dada is here.”
Now, mamas, try not to feel jilted if you place somewhere below “uh-oh,” “kitty,” and “no!” on Popsugar's list of the 15 Most Common First Words. Even without all of dad’s scheming, statistics show that for some reason in baby talk, “Dada” always has a slight edge over “Mama.” Whatever the scientific explanation may be, eight-plus years later it still melts my heart every time I hear it—not counting the whining voice it’s sometimes accompanied by!
—With reporting by Stephanie Rushia