We told our daughter that if she made it to the top of the wall, we'd get her climbing shoes. And so, we very quickly found ourselves trying on shoes. "Are they comfortable?" "Oh Mom, these ones are really great, they look so cute on me," she responds. She is such a girl...
To say we were sceptical on the true usefulness of climbing shoes for young kids might be an understatement. That is why we bought only one pair (with a coupon) and expected the kids to share. Our two, now three year old, has changed our minds though.
Resolute to a fault, our boy refused to climb in anything but his tennis shoes or barefeet. He also isn't so great at finding good foot placements- smearing is his preferred method. So he'd get frustrated, angry that he slipped, and would want to be done with climbing. We saw this over and over. One day we talked him into trying the climbing shoes. And guess what? They really made a HUGE difference. He could get his toes in small pockets. He could smear to his hearts desire. And mostly, he was having fun again.
So are climbing shoes worth it? Yes. I'll say it again, YES!
The shoes we bought are $40 at REI- called Mad Rock Mad Monkey Rock Shoes for Kids. They have suede uppers, hook and loop enclosure and can be resoled. (Something this momma is excited about since they will be passed down to the younger sister.) My favorite feature is the Velcro heel strap that can be tightened or loosened for better fit- or in our case, for siblings with different size feet (up to a point). And don't worry about fitting them too tightly at these young ages. Remember, fun is the name of the game.