Child theme

What is a WordPress child theme?

A child theme is a good solution if you’re not comfortable working with code. WordPress Codex defines a child theme as a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another, referred to as the parent theme

Child themes provide a way for designers or developers to create new designs that inherit the functionality of a parent theme.

How does a WordPress child theme work?

When creating a child theme, you can add custom CSS styles, change the site’s layout, and modify the parent theme’s code without affecting the original files. The child theme lets you update the parent theme without losing your customisations.

To understand how child themes work in WordPress, you must understand the relationship between parent and child themes. 

A parent theme is a complete theme that includes all the required WordPress template files and assets for the theme to work. All themes (except child themes) are considered parent themes.

Child themes:

  • make your modifications manageable and replicable
  • keep customisation separate from parent theme functions,
  • allow for updating the parent theme without destroying your improvements.

How to create a WordPress child theme?

Creating a child theme is relatively simple. First, you need to create a folder with the child theme. This folder should be named using the parent theme’s name for example “something-child”. When creating a child theme for e.g. “Twenty Twenty-Two” , name the folder “twentytwentytwo-child.” This folder will be the base directory for your child theme.

All you need is a text editor and a basic understanding of CSS and HTML. In most cases, you will also need access to the WordPress codebase to copy over the necessary files from the parent theme.

How to create child theme files?

The child theme needs to have its own stylesheet. You can create this file by going to Appearance > Editor. 

Next, you’ll need to create a stylesheet file containing all the CSS rules and declarations for your child theme. To do so, create a new text file and name it “style.css.”

You’ll have to add a required header comment at the very top of the file for the stylesheet to work. This comment contains basic info about the child theme, including that it is a child theme with a particular parent theme.

You only need to include the theme name and the template (e.g. the parent theme’s name). You can have other information, including a description, author name, version, and tags. These additional details are essential if you publish child theme.

How to use a child theme in WordPress?

Once you’ve created your child theme, you can activate it in the WordPress admin panel. To do this, go to Appearance > Themes and click on the Activate button for your child theme.

Your child theme will now be active, and you can start customising it to your heart’s content!

If you need to learn more about this topic, check the instructions on the WordPress Codex website.