Easy Child Theme Creation – A WordPress Guide

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Easy Child Theme Creation. A WordPress Guide.

What is a Child Theme and Why Use One?
A child theme is a theme that inherits the styles and functions of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying the existing theme one has selected to use for their WordPress site.

A few reasons to use a child theme are:

  • If you modify a theme directly and update it later, your modifications will most likely be lost. A child theme will ensure your modifications are preserved.
  • Using a child theme allows you to make changes without affecting the code of the original theme.
  • A child theme creates a separate set of files that can be used to customize the theme without making changes to the original theme.
  • You can create multiple child themes, which can be used to “test” potential changes you would like to make to the styles and/or functions of your theme.
  • If necessary, you will always have an original, unmodified, theme to fall back on.
  • Using a child theme can speed up development time.
  • Using a child theme is an easy way to learn about WordPress theme development.

Recommended Preparation Before Creating a Child Theme
Before creating a child theme, or undertaking any modification tasks to your WordPress theme, it is recommended that you ensure you have a current backup of your WordPress site (files and database).

If you haven’t done this, or are unsure how to do this, please visit the links below:
WordPress.Org Codex—Backing Up Your WordPress Files
WordPress.Org Codex—WordPress Backups

How to Create a Child Theme
There are two methods to creating a child theme: 1) downloading and using a plugin and 2) manual creation, a four-step process.

*Note* If you have already modified your parent theme, there will be some additional steps. All php files and css files that you have modified will need to be copied over to the child theme directory. With functions.php, you may receive errors if you copy the parent theme’s functions.php file in its entirety to the child theme. If this occurs, you’ll need to compare an original, unmodified version of your parent theme’s functions.php file to your modified functions.php file and include only the modifications/additions to your child theme’s functions.php file.

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This is great information for anyone who has a WordPress site. I have found that many people who design their own websites, myself included, fail to create a child theme when they initially build their site.

We all learn our lesson the first time we hit that update button and loose hours of hard work and special coding. Thank you XterraWeb for taking the time to research this issue and provide us with so many different choices. I’m definitely going to take advantage of your insight.

Amor Libris (Kelly Hartigan)

Thank you, Melanie. I learned that lesson too. I was new to WordPress and didn’t learn about child themes until after I had made multiple changes. I wish I had known about this before. Unfortunately, once you have made multiple modifications to your WordPress parent theme, things become a bit more challenging. I was about to give up until I conducted some research and discovered I could make the process a bit easier with the exception of dealing with the functions.php file. I hope the information in this article helps make the process less challenging for you.

A wonderful insight into the possibilities but I dont’ think I’ll be going there anytime soon.
Simply using my WordPress site as it comes is enough for me. I find it time-consuming to get posts, menus and sidebars as I want them without digging into the minefield you’ve explored in depth.
Kudos to you guys who are capable of such technical wizardry. 🙂

Amor Libris (Kelly Hartigan)

Thank you, Tom. Yes, this is a bit more advanced. However, if someone just created a self-hosted WordPress site, the plugins to create the child theme would be helpful, easy to use, and save them from encountering problems in the future.

This is SO helpful! Most people have WordPress sites and would have no idea about these tips that could save them heartache in the future.

Well this blog article was not what I was expecting but everything I needed to read about! I may switch to WordPress one day and will try this.

Thanks for all the info – at the moment I’m just using a free WordPress theme for my blog, but I know at some point I’ll want to upgrade to something I have more control over. You’ve explained all the options in a really easy way – pinned for when I take the next step in blogging!

This is really useful thanks for sharing. I sometimes struggle to figure out child seems so I will be bookmarking is page.

A helpful post – not come across child theme before.I don’t have a wordpress blog anymore though! Look forward to more helpful reads 🙂

This is great information for someone starting their own blog! I wish I had a post like this to read when I switched over!

Child Themes are great. I’m currently working on mine so this was a great help.

Very informative! I am not on wordpress and have not made the switch but will be bookmarking this if ever I do.

been looking for a friendly guide for wordpress users lately! this will be a big help for me! thanks for posting it!

At the moment I’m using a free WordPress theme but I hope to switch this up soon. Your explanation is one of the clearest I’ve seen – child themes have had me confused for a long time. Thanks for explaining it in such an easy way to understand.

Very good information. When I was looking for a new theme, I saw child themes and didn’t understand what it was.