Check with your local soccer league to see if they are required. Most leagues allow younger players to wear sneakers (but almost ALWAYS require shin guards). However, if the grass is wet from dew in the early morning or recent rain, the field will be very slippery and your child may fall down trying to make a sharp turn. This is where cleats are helpful, even at young ages. Many sporting goods stores and large discount retailers have smaller cleats that are very inexpensive. They may only last a year, but your child will have likely outgrown them before they wear out. Check with families who have slightly older children - they may have lots of used cleats around they want to get rid of!