If you missed part 1, when to start solids, go check it out.
The advice is varied on what (and how) babies should eat for their first solid foods.
Some people insist that sweet things (like fruits) should not be first, otherwise the baby will develop a sweet tooth and refuse non-sweet foods. This is silliness. Have you ever tasted breastmilk? It's a lot sweeter than cow's milk. It's a lot sweeter than applesauce. Trust me, it doesn't matter what food you give your baby first, anything shy of actual candy is probably going to be less sweet than the breastmilk. And fruits are soft and juicy and make excellent early foods.
Another common idea is that babies need to begin their exploration with bland foods because they cannot tolerate intense flavors or spices. Um, maybe somebody should tell the Thai mommies? Or the Cuban mommies? Because last I heard they are feeding their babies the same foods that they eat, and I'm pretty sure it's not bland. I'm also pretty sure that none of the little Thai or Cuban babies have suffered from simply eating the foods that their family normally eats. After all, they're going to eat it later, why wouldn't they just eat it now?
The third myth is that babies need to start out with pureed foods. Many people buy these foods, many more make their own... Personally, I don't bother with the expense and trouble. I currently get some free baby food via WIC, so I am using it a bit this time because it is easy, but it is not at all necessary, (I didn't get it with Bear) and I don't bother hauling it with me when I'm away from home.
Finally, they say to only introduce one food at a time. In my understanding this mostly has to do with allergies--if you just introduce one thing at a time then it's easier to identify an allergic reaction. I think this definitely applies to potential allergens, but otherwise I don't stress over this too much.
Some foods, such as common allergens, should definitely be avoided in the early months. Advise varies on how long to avoid these foods--usually they say wait until the baby is a year old. It is my understanding though that the earlier a child is exposed to an allergen, the more likely he is to develop a severe reaction to it. Just as many people outgrow allergies, many allergic reactions are milder in older children than they are in infants. Therefore, particularly if anyone else in the family has food allergies, it is advisable to avoid these things for longer. The foods to avoid are honey (because of botulism) and the top 8 allergens of peanuts, tree nuts, soy, eggs, wheat, shellfish, fish, and cow's milk in all forms. You should also avoid any specific foods that family members are allergic to.
So what DO I feed my babies? Well, after waiting for their readiness signs (rather than for a calendar date), I just feed them off my plate--occasionally with a baby spoon, but usually just with my finger or my spoon/fork. Some foods are very easy to feed--applesauce, grains of rice, mashed up banana or avocado. Some babies dislike the texture of potato but mine seem to like it fine.
When feeding "big people food" rather than pureed baby foods, it is important to be aware of choking hazards of course, and for that I often utilize a baby safe feeder (as in the photo above). For non-mooshy non-juicy foods, I break them into tiny pieces--I figure my food is not pureed when I swallow it, it is just chewed into very small pieces...so I give my baby "post-chewing" sized pieces of beans, breads, and meats.
And yes, I feed my babies things like meat, and I often don't feed them things like carrots or corn... I make these decisions based on two things: 1--how long does it take before baby seems hungry again? If he's starving within an hour, then I think he needs some 'heavier' foods to keep him filled for a little longer (by 6 months old a child should be good for several hours before needing another meal). 2--look in the diapers and notice which things are going through undigested. If the chunks of carrot or bean look the same coming out as they did when they went in, then obviously he's not getting any benefit from ingesting them. For the record, the meat has never come through that way.