Until our babies showed all signs of readiness for solids (see links above) they sat at the table with us for meals and we gave them an EMPTY bowl and spoon to play with. They were quite happy to be "participating" in the meal like everyone else. When we started solids we did baby led solids - offered baby appropriate foods to explore and eat if they were interested / ready. One baby didn't really eat until about 8.5 mo and the other jumped right into eating soon after 6 mo. Rice cereal doesn't really have any nutritional value besides being fortified with iron - and IMO it's much better to get iron from food sources.