People Staff
May 04, 2011 12:00 PM

Jay DeMarcus took an early approach to music appreciation for his daughter Madeline Leigh. Really early. “I thought soothing piano would be good for Maddie to listen to in the womb,” says the Rascal Flatts star. “So I’d play a bunch of David Foster. Now when she begins to be fussy and cry, I put her on my lap and start to play Foster on the piano, and she settles down. She knows music.”

It’s just one of the new daddy skills that the star has learned since the Dec. 17 birth of his daughter with wife Allison DeMarcus, a CMT host and former Miss Tennessee. He’s also learned to plan ahead. “We used to be the kind of people that would run out to dinner with friends on a moment’s notice,” he says. “Now you need a playbook before you can walk out of the house! ‘I’ll go here and do this, and you go there and do that, and maybe we can sneak out for a few minutes!’ Our friends think we’ve dropped off the map.”

The couple, who met on the set of Flatts’ 2002 video “These Days” and married in 2004, had been trying for a baby for years. “The stork kept flying over the house but wouldn’t land!” says Jay, 39. Adds Allison, 34: “We had tried to get pregnant for a while; we had done fertility counseling. It had not been successful. So we finally stopped worrying about it and just let nature take its course. And then we got pregnant! It was a surprise blessing.”

And since Madeline’s birth they’ve also been blessed with plenty of parenting advice from Jay’s bandmates, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney. Rooney’s wife, Tiffany Fallon, “took me to Babies ‘R’ Us for my first run and was so helpful as a guide,” says Allison. “You’re so overwhelmed by all that stuff. You don’t know what you really need.” Levox’s advice has been a little less practical. “Gary told me to strap in and hold on for the wildest ride of my life!” says Jay. But it’s an adventure he and Allison have always wanted. “When you are a parent, you want to be everything you can be,” says Jay. “I can’t wait to take her to Disney World. We look forward to all those firsts.”

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