In my experience, babies all learn to crawl on their own schedule. They all get teeth on their own schedule. They all start talking on their own schedule. Therefore, I think it's more than a little silly to presume that they are all ready to start eating solid foods at the same time.
So I throw any and all age recommendations out the window, and watch for readiness signs instead. What do I watch for?
- Grabbing at other people's food--seriously, why would you force a baby to eat food if he wasn't interested in it yet? (Watching other people eat--as in watching the fork go back and forth from plate to mouth and back--is a prequel to grabbing, and certainly shows interest, but I wait for the actual grabbing)
- Eruption of teeth (or obvious signs that teeth are very close to coming in)
- Sitting up independently (or fairly independently--the ability to support his own weight and balance himself is the point, so that he doesn't collapse on himself and choke)
- Picking things up and putting them in his own mouth (it doesn't have to be the "pincer grasp" per se, just the eye-hand-coordination of picking something up and getting it where he wants it)
I stand by my feeling that "food is for fun until they are one," meaning that they can eat as little (or as much) solid food as they want, but this is an age for exploration of solids, rather than seeking full nourishment from them. I will continue to breastfeed on demand and rely on that as the primary source of nutrition.
Stay tuned for part 2, what to feed the kiddo!