Skates and Clothes
I have a general discussion on the cost of skates but in general, you need to buy the right kind of skates for the type of skating you're doing and the size and weight of the skater. If you're a high level skater but are very small and light, you won't get the right performance out of a really expensive, stiff, high-end boot. Conversly, if you're just a beginner and you're fairly big, you will need a fairly firm boot but not too firm. This is where a professional skating shop is worth the time and cost. They should have sales staff that will put you in the right boot and blade.
There are a few factors that are going to affect how quickly you adjust to new skates. The question is probably as much "how long does it take to break in new skates"? Part of getting accustomed to new skates is having the skate boot bend and flex a bit more easily as you wear them. The higher the level of skater, the stiffer the boot and the more work it's going to be to break in the boot. A heavier and stronger skater will break in a boot more readily than a smaller, less muscular skater.
Someone asked what to do when skates are too big for their skater. Well, generally it's a good idea to get skates that fit well with only a little room for growth. However, if that's not an option at the moment, there are a few old stand-bys that can help make a small foot fit better in a big skate that's too big.
There are hockey helmets for hockey players, helmets for speed skaters and ski helmets for skiers but I've never seen a helmet for figure skaters that is certified by a relevant safety organization. I believe the theory is that when figure skaters start doing jumps and more advance spins, that the helmet will throw them off balance and they won't be able to do the prescribed moves. They also look icky.
We've had some good luck with used skates. The reality is that some kids grow quickly and they outgrow their skates before they wear them out or even fully break them in. In this case, used skates should work out just fine. However, if skates are too broken in, they won't offer the support that your skater need so be cautious.
I recommend going to a skating shop that specializes in figure skating. Yes, it will likely cost more, but you'll get a proper fit and a proper skate. Some skating shops sell used skates directly or on consignment and these can be a good cost-saving option. Used skates are fine as long as the blade is in good shape and the boot isn't too broken in.
You can buy them a little big but not too much. A half size is ok but a whole size is usually too much. If the skates are too big, their feet will move around in the skate and they won't be able to do the jumps, spins and edge work that they are learning. Weight distribution over the blade is very important for figure skating.
Not necessarily. You want a skate that is appropriate to your skater's ability. A skate that is designed for a very capable skater will be stiffer to support the ankle when landing jumps but that stiffness will make it hard for a skater who isn't at that level yet. So, in some cases, a better skate will give your skater worse performance. However, once they get to a higher performance level, you can expect to be spending more on skates to get better performance. The top skaters buy their boots and blades separately.
Once she starts learning to bunny hop and waltz jump, she should really have picks. My youngest daughter did master these skills on a hockey blade but had some serious re-adjustment when she switched to blades with picks. That said, I still think it's best to learn to skate without picks first.
These are great for young kids who are just learning to skate. They're comfortable and a little warmer than leather boots. They're also more flexible so they're great for learning. Your kid can probably do some beginning jumps in soft boot skates but I think most coaches would tell you that she should be in a leather boot once they get to that level. They can probably get through CanSkate in a soft boot and after that, it probably depends on how they're progressing.
If there's one thing you can count on with learning to skate it's falling. Your child will fall. There will likely be tears sooner or later. Knees, hips, elbows and especially tailbones are vulnerable points of contact when your skater falls on the ice and there's no competition as to who wins in a collision between ice and body. The body always looses.