If you’re new to WordPress, you are probably still learning the ropes. You may have the basics down to a tee, but there may be some elements of the software that you need to familiarize yourself with further. One of which is the child theme. So, what is a child theme? – you may be wondering.

In WordPress, a child theme is a subtheme or add-on that assumes the features, style, and functionality of the main theme, also known as the parent theme. Child themes are mostly recommended for WordPress users who want to modify their existing themes without completely altering the code and design.

Now you might be wondering: why is a child theme important in WordPress? 🤔 A child theme is one of the best, fastest, and most efficient ways you can customize your website. Rather than creating a new theme altogether, many developers and designers use this tool to speed up the process.

Understanding a child theme

A child theme is important to your website. If you want to understand it further, take a look at what is a child theme from a technical point of view.

One reason why a child theme is beneficial is that it makes it easy for you to keep your themes up-to-date. Sometimes, when you update an existing WordPress theme, you may lose your hard work and customizations. However, if you use a child theme, you can preserve all your customizations and keep all your data intact even if you choose to update your parent theme.

Let’s break this down further so you can have a better understanding of what a child theme can do for you.

Safe updates ☔

With a child theme, you don’t need to modify your parent theme. You can update it safely and keep all your customizations when a new version becomes available.

Easy extending 🧰

A child theme also has a powerful foundational theme framework that enables you to be flexible without needing to write a lot of code. All you need to do is minimally alter your template files and functionalities, and you’re good to go.

Fallback-safe ⚡️

Unlike creating a completely new theme that requires you to consider all possible scenarios, a child theme relies heavily on the parent theme’s functionality and assumes its style and features. If something happens to your child theme, you can use your parent theme as a reliable fallback option.

How to make a child theme

Now that you know the basics about a child theme, it’s time to create one of your own. To make a child theme, all you need to do is follow these three 👇 simple steps:

1. Create a folder dedicated to the child theme

Go to your themes directory at wp-content/themes and create a new folder. When creating a folder, you need to assign a name. To avoid confusion, use the same name as your parent theme and just add -child at the end for clearer distinction.

2. Develop a stylesheet

In this new folder, you need to develop a style.css file, which contains the cascading style sheet (CSS) rules responsible for controlling the look and feel of your theme.

3. Activate your child theme

Once you create your folder and stylesheet, it’s time to install and activate your child theme. To do this, go to your dashboard, click on Appearance, then Themes. You should see your new child theme. Then all you have to do is to click Activate.

What is a child theme? 🎨

A child theme offers incredible opportunities for you to customize your site without going through the rigorous process of creating a brand-new theme.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Or start the conversation in our Facebook group for WordPress professionals. Find answers, share tips, and get help from other WordPress experts. Join now (it’s free)!