I sent this as an email to a friend with a baby who is starting solids soon.
Congratulations! Starting solids is a big adventure! It can be frustrating when baby doesn't follow the "rules". For example - DS didn't like any of the typical "first foods" such as bananas, applesauce or rice cereal. But it's a lot of fun watching your baby learn and explore new tastes and textures. We found it helped to be totally low key about eating - offer DS foods to try but not try to "make" him eat and also not get stressed out when he wasn't eating much. I'm totally convinced that DS did (and still does) pick up on any stress / anxiety that we have about food such as is he eating enough, is he getting the right nutrition, is he eating a well rounded diet, etc - and when we get stressed / anxious about eating then DS eats LESS solids or just refuses to eat at all.
I found an important thing for me to remember is that for babies under a year, a lot of starting solids is learning new experiences and tastes and textures and nutrition from solids is secondary. Even after a year - the advice for toddlers and preschooler is to look at their nutrition based on what they are eating over the course of several days or even a whole week and to not at all worry about having every meal be well rounded. DS definitely goes through phases where one day he'll pretty much only eat proteins, the next only carbs, and the next only fruit and veggies. Because DS's diet is limited because of his food allergies we're working with a registered dietitian to help ensure that he's getting the nutrition he needs - and she totally supports offering healthy choices and letting DS pick what he wants to eat and how much, being low key about food, and looking at his nutrition over several days.
When I was researching solids - we liked the idea of being low key and letting DS set the pace for what and how much he wanted to eat. I've seen lots of situations where a parent is trying to force spoonfuls of food into a baby's mouth and chasing them around with the spoon. I'm totally biased - to me this seemed an odd choice and that the parents were completely ignoring the baby's body language (closed mouth, turning head away) saying they didn't want that food.
I came across something called "baby led solids" (or "baby led weaning" - weaning is the British term for starting solids) that takes the low key approach the next step by offering from the very start the baby foods that he can self-feed. It skips doing purees and just goes to soft safe finger foods such as sweet potato, avocado, bananas, fruits. Many sources I've read recommend that baby starts moving to finger foods around 8 to 10 months. Since we delayed starting solids until after DS was 6 mo, going directly to finger foods really wasn't that much earlier. We did prepare foods specially for DS, but it was a lot less work than making purees from scratch. Many foods are naturally soft. Other foods I'd steam until soft enough that I could eat it using only my tongue and the roof of my mouth without needing to chew with my teeth. It's not for everyone - but perhaps something to think about. Some resources:
We did try a couple of times to spoon feed DS - but he totally completely wasn't interested and wanted to self-feed from the start. So that's the path we went. My mom thought it was a bit odd, but then remembered that when I was about 8 or so months old I refused to let her spoon feed me any more and insisted on feeding myself.
We never bought any "solids" books. But there were a bunch of websites that I found very helpful with information about first foods, the order to introduce foods, and the nutritional value of various foods. A lot of these have tables that I printed out and had in a folder as resources.
High Iron foods:
Oh - and your baby might take right to solids and might not. We started offering DS solids after he turned 6 mo. He was interested in exploring food and was good at getting it into his mouth, but didn't eat more than a nibble until he was around 8 or 8.5 mo or so. Both are totally normal and not to worry. We introduced all new foods at home where we could control the situation and watch for any reactions. We didn't send ANY solids with DS to day care until he was about 9 or 9.5 mo old, and then we ONLY sent foods that he had "mastered" at home.
Wow - this got pretty long!
Keep us posted with how it goes!
P.S. I can't remember - did you take an infant CPR class? We found that knowing the correct way to respond to a choking baby was very helpful. We didn't need to do this on DS, but I had peace of mind knowing what to do "just in case". It's totally normal for a baby to gag when starting solids and they are learning how to move food around in their mouth - it can be quite dramatic but is not choking (an obstructed airway).