Ok, so your child wants to learn to play the guitar, and you now have to go out and buy one. How do you do it?
When you walk into a music store, you may see a wall or even walls covered with them. The prices on these things could range from around a hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars. You will see acoustic guitars and electric guitars. So.. which one do you get for your child? Good question.
Rule number 1: If your child is a beginner, do NOT spend mega-bucks on a guitar. First of all, you don't even know for sure if your child is going to stay with it long enough to recoup your investment. You don't want to waste your money. Secondly, if you decide on an electric guitar, you will also have to buy an amplifier, and a guitar cable - more dollars. So keep this in mind.
Rule number 2: Buy the guitar at a reputable store that has a large selection. This large selection means that the store is able to get volume discounts when they buy stuff - which translates to more selection and more savings (generally speaking) for you.
Rule number 3: Don't buy a guitar until your child can hold it his/her hands first. Buying any instrument on-line does not give you any real idea of what it is that you are buying - even if it's a "name" brand - because your child can't see it, touch it, or feel it. Make sure that your child has at least the chance to "pretend" to play the thing.
Rule number 4: See rule number 1. Most stores often special package deals from time to time for beginning guitarists. These deals typically include cases, guitar straps, picks, and sometimes amplifiers when appropriate. You don't want to spend more than a few hundred dollars on these packages. If the store doesn't currently have on of these package deals running, they are often willing to create one on the spot. They will want your repeat business when you are ready to upgrade. Remember also that at this level, you are not buying top-notch equipment - you need to shell out lots more bucks for that. If you find that after a few months your child merits an upgrade, upgrade gradually. Don't go from beginner to pro-quality right out of the blocks.
Rule number 5: Price shop. This can be done on-line. Just don't buy it on-line.
Rule number 6: This ties in with rule 3. Typically, kids don't really know what they want until they've seen it, touched it, and felt or played it. Pictures on a website don't stack up to what you see "live". Not only that, beginning players ESPECIALLY kids don't really know what it is that they are looking at. They will tend to want something "cool" looking. Now, there's lots of decent cool-looking stuff out there, but make sure that your child will actually be able to play it. For this you will need the help of a store staff member. If your child can't get his or her hands around the neck, or be able to press down on the fretboard, I don't care how "cool" it looks, your child won't be able to play it. If it can't be played easily, your child won't practice, and will lose interest. You will have then wasted your money. Make sure that the guitar is playable by your child.
To sum up, get the best possible beginner's equipment at the cheapest possible price and make sure that it's playable. Keep in mind that this is an investment in the life of your child.