We have really tried to wait until six months, but he's hungry. I don't mean 'Mommy's tired/sick of sitting here' hungry - he's always been a big eater so I'm used to it. He's been a little finicky lately, he takes only a few short naps after some very long feedings and isn't sleeping well at night. He eats just fine for about 20 minutes and then starts growling (which is adorable, we have videos, but I think it means he isn't getting enough) and freaks out while we're switching sides. He was also on the lower end of the weight scale at his four month check up, she wasn't particularly worried because he's developing and growing, but it definitely needs to improve. He's been reaching for food for a few weeks now. We tried reintroducing formula, which we stopped around three months, and he was just not having it.
I think he needs food. We talked about it a lot yesterday decided to do something similar to what taz suggested - introduce purees, but slowly, and not shy away from letting him explore food, and of course continue breastfeeding. Thank you all for your responses and help!
Pistachio - six months is just the guideline. I was hell bent on dealing solids as long as possible....then my daughter reached over and stole a banana out of my hand and fed it to her self, at four months three weeks...she could sit up, had teeth and reached all the other milestones. She was just an early physical developer and walked at nine months. I went with it on the presumption that if she could feed it to herself, it was okay. I wouldn't have spoon fed her at that age but go with your instinct, you're the mama!
I don't think I'd do cereal, but baby food should be okay. Definitely try making your own, veggies and fruits are lot more nutritious than grains. I know babies who start eating cereal and they end up getting overweight.
We did some baby led weaning with my son but not all the time since he went to daycare and I didn't trust them not to walk off while he was eating. I pretty much did exclusively baby led weaning with my daughter although every once in a while I'd spoon feed her things like yogurt when I just wasn't up to the mess that self feeding would create. I really like baby led weaning but don't think you have to be a purist about it. We also did new foods more similar to a traditional schedule where a new food was introduced and then we waited a few days before the next one so we didn't just give them what we were eating. We did this because we have a lot of food allergies in my husband's family. If you're skeptical about baby cereal try giving a banana or avocado to start out. My daughter practically lived on avocados when we were just starting out with solids.
I have witnessed so many Moms in my community delaying solid foods to 5-7 month old babies and just trying to shove a boob in their mouth because they're fussy due to hunger. Sorry if that sounds a little harsh, but it's one of my pet peeves. If your baby is staring intently at you while you eat, reaching for food, or fussing when you try to bottle/breastfeed, try some real food. I remember one of the first foods I gave to Rowan was a banana mushed up into a paste with a little bit of cereal and formula in it. She loved it. You can mix cereal with pureed sweet potatoes or squash, mix a little yogurt into the cereal, etc.
Well, we tried jarred bananas last night and he seemed really happy with the idea. He reached for the spoon, opened his mouth, mashed it a little, gave us a scrunchy, shaming frown, and spit it out. He swallowed some after a few tries. I think I'm going to try mushing up some fresh banana tonight. Either way, he's stuck with it for a few days.
I'd like to thank everyone for all of the information and support!