Dan + Shay's Shay Mooney and Fiancée Hannah Introduce Son Asher James: 'He's Such a Happy Baby'
"I think it's important to name your kid something that means something," new dad Shay Mooney tells PEOPLE of son Asher James
Ever since becoming a dad in January, Shay Mooney‘s favorite audience is made up of one very small fan.
Calling from Nashville, where Mooney was taking a break from songwriting with bandmate Dan Smyers and Billingsley was giving Asher a bottle, the couple told PEOPLE all about life with their 9-week-old baby boy.
Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Babies newsletter.
PEOPLE: What are Asher’s most recent accomplishments?
Hannah: The cutest thing he’s doing right now is smiling a lot. He’s recognizing faces and his personality is coming out. He seems to be a morning person — when I get him in the morning, he smiles so big and it’s so sweet. He’s such a happy, good baby. “Content” is the word I’d use for him. He’s rarely ever fussy.
PEOPLE: How does his smile make you feel?
Shay: When your kid smiles back at you and reacts to something you’re saying, you just feel the love. It’s the craziest feeling looking down at him, like, “I can’t believe I made this child.”
PEOPLE: Who does he look like?
Hannah: I think he looks exactly like Shay and I love it.
Shay: He has his mom’s nose and mouth, but his facial features are just like me. When I look back at baby pictures of myself, we look like the same baby.
RELATED VIDEO: Shay Mooney and Hannah Billingsley Welcome Son Asher James
PEOPLE: How has having a baby changed your relationship?
Shay: It has been a huge change and the best change. You love each other a ton and then you have a kid and you never realize how much you could love something. It strengthens your love for each other, but it also just opens up this entire other deeper world of love that you never knew you could have.
PEOPLE: What’s it like seeing each other as parents?
Shay: Seeing Hannah be such an amazing mom is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen in my life! To me already she is the most beautiful girl in the entire world — not just her outward beauty — but there’s a maturity she’s gotten from being a mom, and I see that loving and nurturing side of her. To see her hold our child is just the coolest thing. It’s sexy to me.
Hannah: I’m not an emotional person, but sometimes I’ll just watch Shay holding Asher and it just melts my heart. And I can already tell you that Shay is going to be the life of the party for this boy. He’s just so fun and hands-on and involved and I love that.
PEOPLE: Shay, what have you already aced in fatherhood?
Shay: I’ve got diapers down. At first I didn’t think I’d be very good at it and thought I’d let Hannah take care of it. But I can do it in 10 seconds flat. You unlatch. You get the wipes, you get the diaper in hand, you pull it out, you wipe and make sure to put the new diaper on him — for obvious reasons — and then you wrap him up. It’s second nature to me now. And I haven’t been sprayed yet — I’m 100 percent.
Hannah: I’ve been peed on several times! I’m not as quick as Dad.
PEOPLE: What’s your favorite thing to do with Asher?
Shay: All of it! I love feeding him. I get to give him a bottle and it’s that moment where he’s not being fussy and he’s looking up at me as if it’s all he wants in the world. Having that little meal together is a real bonding moment.
Hannah: I love when Shay comes home and I get to see him interact with Asher. I catch myself just watching them.
PEOPLE: How does Asher respond to music?
Hannah: Playing Shay’s music is one of my tactics for getting him to quiet down. If Shay’s on the road. I’ll turn on one of his songs and he’ll get quiet and start listening. Shay was on the road a lot while I was pregnant and I’d play his music to my belly. He loves the sound of Shay’s voice. When Asher was born, he came out screaming and Shay hurried over to him and started talking, and he quieted immediately.
Shay: I watched the whole birthing process and it was the most incredible thing. It’s a miracle. But he was crying when he came out and I walked over and said, “Hey Asher, it’s your daddy.” And he stopped crying. I just burst into tears. I’m about to burst into tears right now! But it really was an incredible feeling.
PEOPLE: Shay, what’s it like having to be on the road touring with a new baby at home?
Shay: It’s really hard. It’s hard to say the word “goodbye” to a kid that doesn’t understand that you are leaving. Hopefully he won’t remember I’m gone too much. It never gets easier. But that’s part of the sacrifice of being a musician.
Hannah: And I send a ton of pictures.
Shay: I get about 300 pictures of Asher a day, and that helps to ease the pain of having to go away.
PEOPLE: What’s it like coming home to Asher?
Shay: You realize that you can travel the entire world and see a lot of amazing things, but the most incredible thing I’ll ever see is at home. The number ones, all the awards in the world, it can never compare to having a family and watching Asher grow up.
FROM COINAGE: Here’s How To Save on Concert Tickets So You Still Have Money For Merch
PEOPLE: You say you’re both emotional. What moments have given you a lump in your throat?
Hannah: Reading books!
Shay: You wouldn’t know until you’re a parent and start reading these books how good they are at making you emotional! I’ll start to read some of them and I’ll tear up. Asher has no idea what I’m saying, but I’m sitting there bawling.
PEOPLE: Which books really get you?
Hannah: Love You Forever.
Hannah: I made it to page three before I had to put it down because I was a mess.
PEOPLE: What’s the meaning behind the name Asher James?
Hannah: Asher is Hebrew and it means blessed and happy. I feel like the most anyone could wish for is a healthy, happy baby and that’s what we got. We are blessed and he is a blessed little boy. His middle names is James and that’s actually Shay’s first name.
Shay: I was named after my grandpa and I wanted to carry on his name because we were very, very close. He was one of the inspirations for “From the Ground Up” — my grandparents were together for 65 years. I think it’s important to name your kid something that means something. And I think that naming them has a lot to do with the kind of person they’ll be. That sounds crazy, but I feel like it shapes them.
PEOPLE: Any plans to take Asher on the road?
Shay: When he gets older and starts walking, we’ll take him out. Now, he wouldn’t remember going anyway, and him being around loud music at this age isn’t great. But we did get to take him to our show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and walk him out on stage. It took me a long, long time to get on that Ryman stage so I think at 2 months he’s doing pretty good.
PEOPLE: You’re engaged and planning to marry later this year. Have you had any time to wedding plan?
Hannah: We just met with a planner this week.
Shay: We’re thinking fall for a wedding, but we’re still getting our plans together. I’m letting Hannah take care of most of that. We’re getting the details taken care of, but our main focus is Asher right now.
For more from Shay Mooney and Hannah Billingsley’s new life as parents, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.