07/16/2009 AT 11:45 AM EDT
The best parenting advice Julie Delpy has gotten since having her son Leo six months ago came from her father.
"He's like, 'Don't protect him too much. Get him a little dirty. Leave him in the yard a little bit,'" the actress tells PEOPLE. "He's a French dad, you know what I mean? He's like, 'Get them a little dirty so they protect themselves from germs.'"
Delpy, who turns 40 in December, may try to heed her father's laid-back advice, but one of her favorite activities with Leo – her first child (whose father is Delpy's boyfriend, German composer Marc Streitenfeld) – is bath time.
"I love Weleda
bath soap," says the French star of Before Sunrise
and 2 Days in Paris
. "It makes him smell like ... a little baby."
The actress-screenwriter-director spent her first night (ever!) away from Leo dining on filet mignon, broccolini and string beans and mingling with other Hollywood powerhouses at the Buzz Girls Creatives Dinner, a private fete for women in the entertainment industry held at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood on July 14.
"I love everything about it," she says of motherhood. "I love breastfeeding. I love looking [down] at him. He looks like a little koala bear. It's so cute."
And Delpy's favorite baby gadget? A video baby monitor mounted on Leo's bed.
"I can just open my eyes and see his little face," she says. "I love watching him. I'm such a 'paranoid, worried-about-my-baby' person that it's perfect for me."
Delpy, who is diving back into screenwriting and developing several projects after taking some time off post-birth, says she and Streitenfeld got Leo used to sleeping in his own room at about 4 ½ months old. "But I love to be able to see him all the time," she says. "Otherwise, I miss him."