I've been getting these questions a lot lately so I thought there might be more of you out there who might be interested in my answers and the thought process behind our choices.
First of all, we started solids when Daliya was just about 7 months old. My original plan was to wait until she got two teeth because I have heard that the saliva changes by the time a baby gets her second tooth and that saliva plays an integral part in digestion, so 2 teeth is a good indicator of a baby's body being ready to digest actual solid food.
My other 2 criteria for knowing when to start solids were 1) the reflex to push food out of her mouth with her tongue went away, and 2) a baby who is interested in food and itching to get her hands on it! This was ultimately the reason I didn't wait for the second tooth to come in in the end - I felt like I was depriving her because she wanted the food we were eating so badly!
On to the next question I've been getting:
No, we did not start with rice cereal. Daliya has never had rice cereal. And no, we did not "make our own baby food." We just didn't ever buy baby food either!
We started with avocado and other soft whole foods that we could just mush up a little and feed them to her as is, or let her hold them and gnaw on them on her own. Some of her first foods were avocado, banana, sweet potato, steamed carrots, and potato - all healthy things that we would be happy to snack on with her as well.
We started this way for 2 reasons, 1) I had heard about "leaky gut" and that children's (or adults', for that matter) intestines are not always closed to the rest of the body system, so certain carbohydrates that are harder to digest can negatively impact health and increase the risk of allergies, and 2) we wanted our daughter to get used to the flavors of whole foods so that she would have a strong base for healthy eating from the beginning of her life.
At this point it seems like my plans worked! My child LOVES her fruits and veggies and will generally choose whole foods over processed foods that are put in front of her. We were recently at a family Shabbat dinner at our shul (synagogue) and Daliya decided that all she wanted to eat was green beans. And she did - she probably ate about 4 or 5 servings of them actually, and was totally thrilled with her dinner!
Even if people are telling you that you better start solids now that your baby is 6 months old, or that you should start with rice cereal and jarred baby food, you don't have to listen to them for your baby to be healthy and thriving. Trust your instincts and logic.
For me personally, a good rule of thumb is to avoid doing anything just because everyone else is doing it or because it is the norm in our society. Do your own digging if you want to and find out more about your options, or just go with your gut and take the leap into whatever it is that feels right. You know what's right for your baby and what's right for your family. You really do.