Dannielynn – the one-year-old daughter of the late Anna Nicole Smith – is preparing for corrective eye surgery, her dad, Larry Birkhead, tells PEOPLE.
The toddler, who has been diagnosed with strabismus (commonly known as a lazy eye), is “doing really well,” her father told PEOPLE at the Billboard and Children Uniting Nations Pre-Oscar bash at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday. “She’s meeting all of her milestones and exceeding them and she’s getting ready to have surgery.”
The 34-year-old Birkhead revealed the problem last month in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. At the time, he admitted he was spooked by the idea of his daughter going under the knife: “Having lost Anna and [her son] Daniel and my dad – my dad just came out of a simple surgery and he died – it’s just tough for me to think about surgeries with [Dannielynn].”
What changed his mind? “A lot of parents … gave me a lot of support and a lot of encouraging words and gave me the strength,” he explained. “I’m a baby when it comes to needles myself, and I definitely don’t want to hand my child over to some surgeons. So, it’s a little nerve-racking but she’s in the best doctors’ hands.”
In the meantime, Birkhead said, little Dannielynn is reminding him more and more of her famous mother. “She has a couple of these facial expressions that are really just dead-on, just like her mom,” he explained. “It’s kind of bittersweet.”
She might even follow Anna Nicole into the entertainment industry. “She sings all the time to all the videos and she tippy-toes around and dances,” Birkhead said. “I think she’s either going to be a singer or a dancer.” (Although he admitted he’s “a little hesitant” about a life in showbiz, he added, “I’ll support her in whatever she wants to do.”)
But enough baby-talk! Oscar night was a chance for Birkhead to enjoy a solo night on the town. “Dads need to get out a couple times, too,” he said, “and have a little bit of fun.”