How to create a child theme in WordPress?

Child Themes

In WordPress, a child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, referred to as the parent theme. Creating a child theme is a recommended practice because it allows you to make modifications and customize your WordPress site without directly editing the files of the parent theme. This is important because if you directly modify the parent theme and it gets updated, your changes may be overwritten.

In the context of web development, particularly with platforms like WordPress, parent and child themes refer to a relationship between two themes that allows for a structured approach to customization.

Parent Theme:

  • The parent theme is the main or original theme that provides the core functionality, styling, and overall design of a website.
  • It is the foundation upon which the child theme is built.
  • Examples of parent themes in WordPress include default themes like “Twenty Twenty-One” or premium themes that users purchase and install.

Child Theme:

  • The child theme is a separate theme that inherits all the features and styling of its parent theme but allows for customization without directly modifying the parent theme’s files.
  • It is used to make modifications, add new features, or override existing styles without affecting the core functionality of the parent theme.
  • Creating a child theme is a best practice because it ensures that customizations are kept separate from the original theme, making it easier to update the parent theme without losing modifications.
  • The child theme includes its own files (e.g., stylesheet, template files, functions file) to override or add to the functionality of the parent theme.

Advantages of Using Parent and Child Themes:

  • Update Safety: When the parent theme is updated, customizations made in the child theme remain unaffected, allowing for a smoother update process.
  • Organization: It provides a structured and modular approach to theme development, making it easier to manage and maintain code.
  • Reusability: Child themes can be reused for multiple projects, with the parent theme serving as a foundation for consistent design and functionality.

Creating a Child Theme Workflow:

  1. Create a new directory: In the WordPress themes directory, create a new folder for your child theme.
  2. Create a style.css file: Include the required information, such as the theme name and template (parent theme) name.
  3. Create a functions.php file (optional): Add custom functions or enqueue scripts/styles if needed.
  4. Activate the child theme: Go to the WordPress dashboard, navigate to “Appearance” -> “Themes,” and activate your child theme.

By using parent and child themes, developers can maintain a balance between preserving the original theme’s functionality and styling while allowing for flexible customization and updates.

Creating a child theme in WordPress is a great way to make customizations to your site without altering the core theme files. By using a child theme, you can ensure that your changes will not be overwritten when the parent theme is updated. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a child theme in WordPress:

  1. Start by creating a new folder in your WordPress theme directory. Give the folder a unique name that reflects the child theme you’re creating, such as “my-custom-theme-child.”
  2. Inside the new folder, create a new file called “style.css.” This file will be used to define the child theme’s styles.
  3. In the style.css file, add the following code at the top:
Copy code/*
 Theme Name: My Custom Theme Child
 Theme URI: 
 Description: Child theme for My Custom Theme
 Author: Your Name
 Author URI: 
 Template: my-custom-theme
 Version: 1.0

Be sure to change the theme name, author, and template to match your own theme. The template should be the folder name of the parent theme.

  1. Now you can add your custom CSS styles to the style.css file.
  2. To create a functions.php file, create a new file called “functions.php” in your child theme directory.
  3. Now copy the content of the parent theme’s functions.php file and paste it into your child theme’s functions.php file
  4. Now you can add your custom functions to the child theme’s functions.php file.
  5. To activate your child theme, go to Appearance > Themes in the WordPress dashboard and select your child theme from the list of available themes.

By following these steps, you can easily create a child theme in WordPress and make customizations to your site without affecting the parent theme. Remember, if you make any changes to the parent theme, it will not affect the child theme and your changes will remain safe.

Customizing your child theme

Certainly! Customizing a child theme in WordPress allows you to modify the appearance and functionality of your site without altering the original or parent theme. Here are some common customization tasks you might perform in a child theme:

  1. CSS Styling:
  • Open the child theme’s style.css file and add your custom CSS rules to modify the visual appearance of your site.
  • Use your browser’s developer tools to inspect elements and find the appropriate CSS selectors for customization. Example:
   /* Customizing header background color */
   header {
       background-color: #f0f0f0;

   /* Changing font color of the site title */
   .site-title a {
       color: #333;
  1. Template Overrides:
  • Duplicate template files from the parent theme to the child theme, then make modifications as needed.
  • This allows you to customize specific pages or components of your site. Example: Copy header.php from the parent theme to the child theme, and make changes within the child theme’s copy.
  1. Adding Functions via functions.php:
  • Open the child theme’s functions.php file to add custom PHP functions.
  • Use hooks and filters to modify or extend the behavior of your site. Example:
   // Custom function to change the excerpt length
   function custom_excerpt_length($length) {
       return 20; // Change this to your desired excerpt length
   add_filter('excerpt_length', 'custom_excerpt_length');
  1. Enqueueing Scripts and Styles:
  • Use the child theme’s functions.php file to enqueue additional stylesheets or scripts.
  • This is useful for adding custom JavaScript or styles to enhance your site. Example:
   // Enqueue custom stylesheet
   function enqueue_custom_styles() {
       wp_enqueue_style('custom-style', get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/custom-style.css', array(), '1.0');
   add_action('wp_enqueue_scripts', 'enqueue_custom_styles');
  1. Custom Page Templates:
  • Create custom page templates in your child theme to apply unique layouts to specific pages.
  • Add a new PHP file in the child theme and assign a custom template name at the top. Example:
   /* Template Name: Custom Page Template */
   // Add your custom template code here
  1. Modifying Theme Features:
  • Use filters and actions to customize theme features, such as modifying the post meta, adding custom post types, or altering theme settings. Example:
   // Remove the post date from displaying
   function remove_post_date() {
       remove_action('generate_after_entry_title', 'generate_post_meta');
   add_action('wp', 'remove_post_date');

Always remember to test your changes on a staging or development site before applying them to your live site. This ensures that any modifications you make do not negatively impact the functionality or appearance of your website.

Templates, parts, and patterns

Templates, parts, and patterns are essential concepts in WordPress theme development, particularly with the advent of block-based themes. Understanding these components helps you structure and organize your theme for greater flexibility and reusability.


  • Definition: Templates are files in your theme that determine how different types of content are displayed. They define the structure and layout of various pages or post types on your WordPress site.
  • Example: single.php is a template file used for displaying a single post, while archive.php is used for displaying a list of posts on archive pages.


  • Definition: Parts are reusable components or sections of code that you can include in different templates. They help break down the template structure into smaller, manageable pieces, promoting modular design.
  • Example: You might create a part called content.php that includes the main content structure. Then, you can include this part in various templates like single.php and page.php.


  • Definition: Patterns are predefined block layouts that can be applied to different parts of your theme. With block-based themes, patterns allow for consistent and customizable designs for common sections like headers, footers, and more.
  • Example: A header pattern might consist of a navigation block, a site title block, and a search block arranged in a specific layout. This pattern can then be applied to the header area of different templates.

Using Templates, Parts, and Patterns in a Child Theme:

  1. Customizing Templates:
  • Copy the template file from the parent theme to the child theme and make modifications.
  • This allows you to customize the layout and structure of specific pages without altering the original template in the parent theme. Example:
   // Copy single.php from the parent theme to the child theme
   // Make modifications in the child theme's single.php file
  1. Creating Custom Parts:
  • Create a new PHP file for your custom part in the child theme.
  • Use get_template_part() in your templates to include the custom part. Example:
   // In your template file (e.g., single.php)
   get_template_part('custom', 'content');
  1. Implementing Patterns:
  • Define and register patterns in your theme using the block editor.
  • Apply registered patterns to different templates or content areas as needed. Example:
   // Register a header pattern in your theme's block.json file
   "patterns": {
       "header": {
           "title": "Custom Header",
           "content": [
               // Define the structure of your header pattern

These concepts are especially relevant for block-based themes, where the focus is on using the block editor to create and customize page layouts. By utilizing templates, parts, and patterns, you can build flexible and maintainable WordPress themes that adapt to various content types and design requirements.

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