People have asked what L-train eats, and I always tell them "whatever we eat". It often gets mixed reviews, anywhere from "Oh cool!" to "Don't you feed him baby food though?" Then answer to that is no, we don't. No baby food, no baby cereal it's not necessary. He had a few days of purees when he was just starting out and he quickly realized he liked the 'real stuff' much better!
If your baby is used to purees you can still make the switch, I'd just recommend doing it slowly. Start with something like avocado or banana and mash it lightly, work your way up to chunks of food! As with anything always introduce each new food separately for 3 days before adding something else new!
Once you're ready for 'chunks' the easiest guideline to follow is french fry shaped and sized pieces of food.
Here is a list of our favorite foods for starting out! Most can be mashed/smooshed with a fork until your little one can self feed!
Avocado- just slice as usual mash if needed.
Banana- Cut into french fry shaped pieces or mash if needed
Sweet Potato/Yams- cut off each end of raw sweet potato, bake at 350 until soft. Peel and cut into fry shaped pieces, cool somewhat.
Carrots- Cut into fry shaped pieces, boil until soft
Apple- Peel and bake at 350 until soft, cool and cut into pieces
Chicken-Bake until finished and shred
Ground Beef/Turkey- cook until done and offer pieces
Beans- Until about 9 months I smoosh beans just a bit before offering them to L-train
Blueberries- Until about 9 months I continue smooshing these slightly
Pasta- Cook as usual and cut into small-ish pieces
Peas- Cook and smoosh a bit to make it easier on them until about 9mo
Pancakes- cut into smallish squares, big enough for them to pick up but not big enough to choke on
French Toast- cut into smallish squares, big enough for picking up but not big enough to choke on
Eggs- Scrambled (Some choose to wait until after 12 mo to introduce eggs, new studies show that introducing foods early does NOT contribute to allergies but some studies still show the opposite. Go with your instincts on this one)
Oatmeal- I use the regular old oatmeal 1/8 cup oats 1/4 cup water mix and microwave for about 30 seconds, mix with COLD applesauce (just a bit) and let cool enough to not be hot. You can use steel cut oats for a finer consistency or run your oats through the food processor if you prefer.
Yogurt- Greek yogurt, full fat (make sure it has NO honey)
As for seasonings, I season L-trains food. Just like I do ours. Unless it's super spicy I make no changes. That said I do NOT cook with much salt if any, if you use salt heavily in your cooking you may want to set aside some for your little one before adding the salt. I waited until around 10 months to introduce corn and tomatoes but you can try them whenever you think YOUR baby is ready.
The only food that is a DO NOT FEED for babies now according to recent studies is honey. You shouldn't feed infants honey at all. ever. Until at least 12 months, I hold off until 18-24 months myself. I also hold off on peanut butter until the same age.
As for the question about iron fortified rice cereal. No they don't need it. Oatmeal has tons of iron and isn't anywhere near as processed as rice cereal. Rice cereal can cause constipation in babies and is full of fillers and other nasty crap. Read the box, you want as few ingredients in your babies food as possible. The closer to the whole, real thing, the better!
Oh and Gerber is now partners with Nestle. I avoid them wherever possible!