My daughter is now almost 9 months old. My family doesn't believe in baby talk, but my husband's family does. I myself think it isn't right either. By baby talk, I mean baba (bottle), juju (juice), ty ty (tired), wa wa (water). My sister-in-law thinks that it is good to talk to a baby this way because it helps their speech. I don't agree. I mean mama and dada are okay, but I hardly use those words. I mostly say Mommy and Daddy. My question is: Is baby talk good practice?
Actually, you're both right. On the one hand, children do need to hear "real" language in order to imitate and master it themselves. But on the other hand, a little baby talk won't hurt, either. Research shows that speaking baby talk to infants and toddlers doesn't seem to slow down their language development (although it might annoy some of the adults around you). And, even without meaning to, parents usually phase out their use of baby talk by the time their children are about 3 years old.
Interestingly, some researchers believe that the benefits of baby talk may lie in the exaggerated facial expressions and singsong intonation that often accompany it. From your child's perspective, the high-pitched, singsong tone may signal that you're talking to her, rather than any adults in the area. The exaggerated facial expressions and vocal tone may make it easier for her to pick up the emotional intent of what you're saying. (Of course, the same thing could be true if you use a singsong tone and exaggerated expressions when you speak in "real" words, too.)
So, the bottom line is that baby talk isn't a must, but it also probably won't hold your child back. Feel free to play with your language a bit, and see if you can find the balance that works best for you.