A child theme is a WordPress themeA WordPress theme is a set of files that determine the design and layout of a website. It controls everything ... More that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, referred to as the parent theme. A child theme allows you to make modifications to your site’s appearance and functionality without altering the original code of the parent theme.
How it Works
When a user activates a child theme, WordPress first looks for the template files within the child theme directory. If a file is not found in the child theme, WordPress then searches for it in the parent theme directory. This means that any changes made to template files in a child theme will override those made in the parent theme.
For example, if you want to change the background color of your site, instead of modifying the CSS file directly in the parent theme, you can create a child theme and add your custom CSS rules there. This way, when you install an update to your parent theme, your modifications will not be lost.
Benefits of Using a Child Theme
Using a child theme in WordPress offers several benefits, including:
Creating A Child Theme
Creating a child theme in WordPress is relatively straightforward.
Step 1: Create a New Folder
First, navigate to the
wp-content/themes/ directory in your WordPress installation using an FTP client or your hosting provider’s file manager. Then, create a new folder for your child theme. You can name it anything you want, but it’s best to use something descriptive.
Step 2: Create a Stylesheet
In the new folder you just created, create a new file called
style.css. This file will contain the CSS styles that will be applied to your child theme.
At the top of this file, add the following lines of code:
/* Theme Name: Your Child Theme Name Template: parent-theme-name */
Replace “Your Child Theme Name” with the name of your child theme and “parent-theme-name” with the directory name of the parent theme you want to use as the basis for your child theme.
Step 3: Add Optional Files
If you want to add any additional functionality to your child theme, you can create a
functions.php file in your child theme directory. This file will be loaded automatically when you activate your child theme and can be used to enqueue scripts, add custom post typesA custom post type is a feature in WordPress that allows users to create their own content types, beyond the d... More or taxonomiesIn WordPress, a taxonomy is a way of grouping content together based on shared characteristics. It is used to ... More, or modify existing functionality.
If you want to modify the structure of your parent theme, you can create new template files in your child theme directory. To do this, simply copy the template file you want to modify from the parent theme’s directory and paste it into your child theme’s directory. Then, make any necessary modifications to the code in this new file.
For example, if you want to modify the appearance of your single postA post is a type of content in WordPress, a popular open-source content management system used for creating an... More pagesIn WordPress, a page is a content type that is used to create non-dynamic pages on a website. Pages are typica... More, you can create a
single.php file in your child theme directory by copying the
single.php file from your parent theme’s directory. You can then edit this new
single.php file to include any customizations or changes that you desire.
Step 4: Activate Your Child Theme
Once you’ve created all necessary files for your child theme, navigate to
Appearance > Themes from within your WordPress dashboardIn WordPress, the Dashboard is a central hub for managing a website's content and settings. It is the first sc... More. You should see both the parent and child themes listed there.
Click on “Activate” under the child theme name to make it active on your site. All modifications made through this new child theme will now take effect on your site while maintaining all updates made by its parent.
That’s it! You now have a fully functional WordPress child theme that inherits all features from its parent while allowing customizations without affecting its core files.
Further Reading: How To Create A Child Theme In WordPress (And Why You Need One)
Creating and using a child theme can help improve both functionality and design aspects of WordPress sites while maintaining high levels of security and ease-of-use during updates. The ability to modify templates without changing core files or sacrificing stability makes them an excellent option for anyone looking for more control over their website’s look-and-feel or feature set.