Sound rock climbing technique requires precision footwork, which comes in part from wearing well-fitted climbing shoes. Climbing shoes should conform relatively closely to a child's feet without causing pain, as explained by Audry Morrison in "Climbing Shoes -- Is Pain Insane?" on the British Mountaineering Council website. Often, this means selecting a pair of shoes a half-size smaller than the child's street size, as noted in "How to Rent Kids' Rock Climbing Equipment" on eHow.com.
Buying a child a pair of extremely large climbing shoes "for him to grow into" does that child a disservice. Poorly fitting climbing shoes encourage sloppy footwork and discourage trusting feet on small holds. For best results, let your child test out several models and choose his favorite pair, as illustrated in the December 13, 2007 "New York Times.com: Fashion & Style" article, "Physical Culture: Gear Test, Rock Climbing Shoes for Kids."
A child already wearing common adult shoe sizes has her choice of the adult climbing shoes that fit her and her parents' budget. Otherwise, plenty of shoe manufacturers offer kids' climbing shoes in children's sizes for smaller feet. These include Acopa, Five Ten, La Sportiva, Mad Rock, Mammut, and Montrail, among others. Children's climbing shoes tend to cost less than adult-sized climbing shoes, with new pairs running as low as $35 in 2010.
Parents in search of cheaper kids' climbing shoes can look to clearance websites, such as Sierra Trading Post, for bargains, along with sales at local outdoor stores. If you find a great deal---such as well-fitting climbing shoes for less than $30---you can always purchase pairs for your child in multiple sizes, so he can stay in the right-sized climbing shoes as his feet grow.
For cheaper climbing shoes for kids, look into purchasing a pair of used shoes either on the Internet or from another climber. Inspect the climbing shoes for permanent damage or defects before purchasing. If they need a resole, consider buying a new pair of children's climbing shoes for about the same price as a resole. Alternately, resole the shoes yourself after buying them.
When your child outgrows her climbing shoes, recoup some of the cost by selling them to another parent with climbing kids or pass them along to a younger sibling who climbs. If the shoes need a resole, you can do it yourself to save more money before selling the climbing shoes to another parent.