What is a Child Theme in WordPress?

A child theme in WordPress is a supplemental theme that inherits the styles and functions of another theme, referred to as the parent theme. It allows users to modify, customize, or extend the functionality of the parent theme without directly altering its files. Creating and using child themes is a best practice recommended by WordPress to ensure that website customizations are preserved when the parent theme receives updates.

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about child themes in WordPress.

Understanding the Concept

When a child theme is activated, it retains all the functionality and styling of the parent theme. However, any modifications or additional features added to the child theme will not affect the parent theme. This approach provides a safeguard against potential loss of customizations or alterations in the event of parent theme updates.

Benefits of Using a Child Theme

1. Preservation of Customizations

By using a WordPress child theme, any customizations made to the website’s design or functionality will be safeguarded. This is essential, especially when the parent theme receives updates, as modifications made directly to the parent theme may be lost during the update process. So for example you can add code snippets in your functions.php file and theme updates won’t erase your modifications.

2. Experimentation and Customization

Child themes provide a safe environment for users to experiment with various design elements and functionality without impacting the parent theme. It allows for the customization of specific features or styles while keeping the core elements intact.

3. Ease of Maintenance

Separating customizations into a child theme streamlines the maintenance process. Users can update the parent theme without worrying about conflicting custom code, ensuring that the website remains secure and up to date.

How to Create a Child Theme

Creating a child theme involves creating a new directory in the “wp-content/themes” directory and adding a stylesheet with specific details, such as the child theme’s name, template, and other optional information. Once the child theme is set up, it can be activated and customized according to the user’s requirements.

Here is example style.css code in your child theme’s style.css. Notice how the Template: value is set, what this value is set as will be the child theme’s parent. So for example if you’re making a child theme for Kadence the value would need to match the theme’s folder name, likely ‘kadence’. You can also use a plugin to automatically generate a child theme for your current theme.

Theme Name: Twenty Fifteen Child
Description: Twenty Fifteen Child Theme
Author: John Doe
Author URI: http://example.com
Template: twentyfifteen
Version: 1.0.0
Text Domain: twentyfifteenchild
view raw style.css hosted with ❤ by GitHub


In conclusion, a child theme in WordPress serves as a protective layer for website customizations, allowing users to modify and enhance the design and functionality of their websites without compromising the integrity of the parent theme. Understanding the concept of child themes and their benefits can empower WordPress users to maintain a professional, customized web presence while ensuring consistent updates and security.

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Andy Feliciotti

Andy has been a full time WordPress developer for over 10 years. Through his years of experience has built 100s of sites and learned plenty of tricks along the way. Found this article helpful? Buy Me A Coffee

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