As always, this is just my little list of what has been awesome for us. We waited until six months to introduce solids, and skipped rice cereal/baby oatmeal. I make all of Ruby's food, and nowadays she mostly just eats what we eat. So I'm sure this list might be different if you go a different feeding route than we did.
1.) Tommee Tippee Explora Bibs. These might be hands-down my favorite baby feeding item. The #1 reason? You can put them in the dishwasher. Bam. That's what I'm talking about. Feeding a baby is MESSY. Those laminated fabric bibs are cute, but the back side isn't laminated. Um, yeah, food still gets down there! And then it gets gross! Wipe clean? You can't wipe cotton clean. Ew. These bibs I just rinse down and throw in the dishwasher. I only have two, and as Ruby's eating more, I plan to get a few more. Love.
2.) Freezer. This picture looks like our fridge/freezer combo, so I picked that one. But any freezer would do. I freeze SO much more stuff now that Ruby is eating. Purees, of course, but also stuff like pancakes (we just defrost one in the morning and cut it up for her to eat), pasta with veggie sauce, black beans, and left over ingredients that I can still use, but won't before they go bad in the fridge. I also buy bags of organic frozen veggies and just steam a serving for her in the microwave as we go. She loves them as finger food, and frozen veggies still are high in nutrients, since they're flash frozen right when they are picked.
3.) Ice Cube Trays. Do you know how hard these were to find??? Really hard! I'd looked everywhere (besides the internet) to find some cheapy ice cube trays, and could not. Finally, I was shopping with my mom at Target one day, and she needed some food storage containers. Poof! There they were, at the bottom of the shelf in that aisle. Now you know. I was intrigued by some fancy silicone ones, but in the end, I decided that the puree stage was short and I didn't want to spend the money on fancy stuff. These work great.
4.) Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair. We don't have the exact style pictured, as we got this as a hand-me-down from my niece (which was awesome). I like this high chair a lot. Our kitchen has bar stools with backs, so I can put it on there. Which is pretty much where it always is, because that way Ruby can hang out with me while I'm doing stuff in the kitchen. But I can also easily put it on a dining room chair. It seems comfy for her, has three seat positions, and the tray is easy to use and clean. It says the tray is dishwasher safe, but we have a full-size dishwasher and there is no way that thing can fit in there. The seat wipes clean easily too. The one thing I don't like, is that the sides have cotton piping. As I mentioned above, cotton does NOT wipe clean easily, and as such, that piping part is kind of yucky. Oh well.
5.) Take n Toss Spoons (and Forks). I bought these before Ruby was eating for her to "play" with/get used to. I chose these because they were cheap. And BPA free. But cheap. We don't use the forks yet, but the spoons have worked great. We have some other Gerber silicone spoons that look awesome, but the scoop is too deep for her to easily get the food out. These Take n Toss spoons are pretty flat, so she can easily get the food off.
6.) Nuk Learner Cup. Ruby received a lot of sippy cups for Christmas. They're all pretty good, but this is the one she seems to prefer the most. I like that it doesn't leak, and it has a cap so I can throw it in my diaper bag. It is easy for her to pick up, and easy to drink out of.
7.) Sugarbooger Sippy Cups. We found these at this adorable baby store in the city and my dad bought them for Ruby because they were cute. Turns out, they're actually pretty awesome, too! I like them because the water is free-flowing, much like a real cup. They don't have those annoying valves that no one can drink out of. This means that they are NOT no-spill. But they are good for practicing drinking, so we use them a lot. Bonus: there's just two parts, a lid and a cup. Both dishwasher safe!
8.) Boon Saucer. These things are great because once I put them down on her tray, Ruby cannot pick them up and turn them (and the food) into a projectile. They've got a grippy bottom, but more importantly, rounded sides, so she can't pick it up. We have to ration the food that's in front of her right now, or she'll stuff it all into her mouth at once (I think she's part Beagle), so they aren't essential, but I think they'll get more and more use as she gets older.
9.) Magic Bullet Blender. I have a fancy food processer, an immersion blender, a regular blender, and the Magic Bullet. I used the food processor once, but every single other time I've made a puree, it's been in the Magic Bullet. One of this blender's cups would usually make an ice cube tray full of baby food. Perfect! Plus, it's small, dishwasher safe (you know how I love that), and we already have it. It doesn't chop up ice very well for smoothies, but, well, Ruby doesn't eat smoothies.
So there you have it. Overall, I pretty much love making Ruby's food. I know there's no weird stuff in it (I'm looking at you, baby "puffs"), it is WAY cheaper than buying prepared baby food, and it is actually really easy and not time consuming.
I will say that I don't consider myself that creative in the recipe department. Thankfully, my sister-in-law lent me two baby food recipe books that I probably should have included in my list. I'd recommend them both!
Cooking for Baby by Lisa Barnes, is the first book I cracked. For kitchen dummies like me, it tells you how long to steam a pear for, but it also has toddler recipes that are foods I would actually eat. Which will be great as she continues to eat more meals with us.
I've also used Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel, which is actually not just purees as the title suggests. There's some great stuff in there for older babies, too! Ruby loves the pasta stars with veggie sauce.
Mostly I've learned that with food, unless it's a major allergen (like nuts), or a choking hazard (like nuts, haha), or honey, babies can pretty much eat anything. Ruby gets down with garlicky hummus, sharp cheddar cheese, and red peppers, and loves cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices. I'm kind of picky, but I don't want to be the reason she is someday, so the sky is the limit with flavors for her. Which honestly, is pretty fun!