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How to Create a WordPress Child Theme (Beginner’s Guide)

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In the dynamic world of web development, customizing your WordPress website is often essential. It allows you to make your site unique and tailored to your specific needs. One way to achieve this is by creating a child theme in WordPress. A child theme lets you change how your WordPress website looks and works without affecting the original theme.

This article will walk you through the process, step by step, ensuring that you can make changes to your site without affecting the parent theme.

What is a Child Theme?

Before diving into the creation process, let’s understand what a child theme is. A child theme is an additional theme that has the same features and design as its parent theme, but it lets you make changes without changing the original theme. It serves as a safeguard, ensuring that your customizations are preserved when the parent theme receives updates. Also read this informative article about tips and tricks about WordPress.

Importance of child themes in WordPress:

When it comes to WordPress customization, child themes play a crucial role. Here’s why they are important:

  • Maintain Updates: Parent themes receive regular updates to enhance security and add new features. However, making changes to the parent theme directly can cause your modifications to be lost during updates. By using a child theme, you can keep your customizations while still benefiting from future updates to the parent theme.
  • Preserve Original Theme: By creating a child theme, you can make changes to your site’s Appearance and functionality, all while preserving the original look and feel of the parent theme. This allows you to experiment and iterate without the risk of permanently altering the main theme.
  • Safeguard Against Errors: If you make a mistake while editing the files of the parent theme, it can break your website. With a child theme, any errors you make are isolated to the child theme’s files, meaning your site will still function properly.
  • Enhance Security: By using a child theme, There’s less chance of introducing security flaws to the parent theme. This is especially important if you’re modifying a theme obtained from a third-party source. To Learn more about WordPress security read this article.

Why Use a Child Theme?

  • Preservation of Customizations: With a child theme, you can tweak your website worry-free, knowing that your edits won’t be lost when the parent theme gets updated.
  • Maintaining Code Cleanliness: It encourages best practices in web development by keeping your custom code separate from the original theme’s code.
  • Testing Ground: Child themes provide a safe environment for experimenting with new features, styles, or functions.

Benefits of Creating a Child Theme.

Creating a child theme offers several advantages for WordPress users:

  • Easy Updates: Child themes only contain the modified files, making it easier to update the parent theme without affecting your customizations.
  • Code Customization: With a child theme, you have complete control over the code, allowing you to modify and extend the functionality of your website as needed.
  • Safe Editing: Since your changes are made in a separate child theme, you can freely edit the template files without worrying about breaking the parent theme.
  • Efficiency: By reusing the existing files and styles of the parent theme, you can save time and effort in creating a completely new theme from scratch.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Child Theme:

Creating a child theme in WordPress is a relatively simple process. It involves creating a new directory, creating a stylesheet file, and adding code to specify the parent theme. By doing these simple and quick steps, you can customize your WordPress website without worrying about the impact of future updates.

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to help you create a child theme in WordPress.

Step 1: Creating a Child Theme Folder.

  • Start by creating a new directory in your themes directory, which is located in wp-content/themes/. 
  • Name this folder something descriptive, like “my-child-theme”. This directory will house all the files for your child’s theme.

Step 2: Creating the Stylesheet: style.css.

  • Inside the child theme folder.
  • Create a new file called “style.css”
  • This file will serve as the main stylesheet for your child’s theme. Open the file and add the following code:

/*Theme Name: “My Child Theme”
URI: [URL of your child theme] 
Description: This is my child’s theme based on [name of parent theme]. 
Author: [Your Name] 
Author URI: [Your website or profile]
Template: [name of parent theme] Version: 1.0*/

  • Replace the text within square brackets with your own information.

Step 3: Enqueuing the Stylesheet.

To ensure that the child theme’s stylesheet is loaded, you need to enqueue it. Open the functions.php file of your child theme and add the following code:

add_action (‘wp_enqueue_scripts’, ‘my_child_theme_enqueue_styles’); function my_child_theme_enqueue_styles () {wp_enqueue_style (‘parent style, get_template_directory_uri (). ‘/style.css’);} />

Step 4: Installing the Child Theme.

  • Now, compress the entire child theme folder (the parent theme folder should not be included) and install it in WordPress like any other theme. 
  • Navigate to Appearance> Themes and click on the “Add New” button. Then, click on the “Upload Theme” option and select the compressed file.

Step 5: Customize Your Child Theme.

With the foundation set, you can now start customizing your child’s theme. You can make changes to styles, templates, and functions as needed.

Step 6: Activating the Child Theme.

  • After customizing your child theme, you can activate it by going to Appearance > Themes and selecting the newly installed child theme. 
  • Your website will now use the child theme, and any customizations you’ve made will be visible.

Strategies for Efficient Child Theme Creation:

  • Plan Ahead: Before creating your child theme, take some time to outline the changes and modifications you want to make to the parent theme. This will help you identify which files and functions to include in your child theme and streamline the development process.
  • Use a Child Theme Plugin: If you prefer not to use automated tools, you can create a child theme manually by adding a few lines of code to your theme’s functions.php file. However, using a child theme plugin like Child Theme Generator can simplify the process by creating the necessary files and structure for you.
  • Test and Update: It’s important to test your child’s theme thoroughly to ensure that it works correctly and doesn’t break any functionality. Regularly update your child’s theme as needed to stay compatible with the parent theme updates and WordPress core updates.

Troubleshooting Common Issues:

Overriding Parent Theme Styles. If you’ve created a child theme in WordPress to customize the look and feel of your website, you may encounter issues with overriding the styles of the parent theme. Here are a few steps to troubleshoot this common problem:

  • Check the style.css file: Ensure that the child theme’s style.css file is properly set up and activated. Make sure that your child’s theme is properly registered and the styles are being enqueued correctly.
  • Verify the order of stylesheets: In some cases, the parent theme’s stylesheets may be loaded after the child theme’s stylesheets. To fix this issue, you can use the wp_enqueue_style function to specify the dependencies and load the child theme’s stylesheets after the parent theme’s stylesheets.
  • Inspect the CSS selector specificity: Check if the parent theme’s styles have higher specificity than the child theme’s styles. You can override the parent theme’s styles by using more specific CSS selector combinations, such as using IDs or classes in your child theme’s stylesheets.

Child Theme Not Working Properly:

If your child’s theme in WordPress is not working as expected, here are some steps to troubleshoot the issue:

  • Check for errors: Review your child theme’s code for any syntax errors or missing functions. Use the WordPress debug mode or a debugging plugin to identify and fix any PHP errors.
  • Disable conflicting plugins: Some plugins may conflict with your child theme and cause unexpected behavior. Turn off all plugins and then reactivate them one by one to identify the culprit.
  • Ensure compatibility with the parent theme: Verify that your child’s theme is compatible with the latest version of the parent theme and WordPress. Update both the parent theme and WordPress to ensure compatibility.
  • Clear cache and refresh: If you have caching enabled, clear the cache and refresh the website to see if the changes take effect.


In summary, learning how to make a child theme in WordPress is a handy skill. It can save time and effort for website creators and anyone wanting to personalize their WordPress theme. By following these clear steps, you can create a child theme and make changes with confidence, knowing they won’t be lost when the theme is updated.

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