WordPress Workbench: Understanding Child Themes

WordPress WorkBench

With a seemingly endless supply of quality themes out on the market, most WordPress users will likely find a close enough fit for their site. Businesses large and small have the added challenge of maintaining brand integrity and matching their site up to other marketing materials like brochures, banner ads and the like.

One solution is to have a custom theme completely built up from ground up, this can be a bit costly and results can vary greatly depending on your developer. Another option is too find something that’s a near match to what your site’s needs, like general layout, sliders and other functionality, and then customized it using a child theme.

A child theme, as the name implies inherits traits and functionality from its parent, however you edit the child theme without affecting the parent theme leaving an unaltered version of the main theme in case things don’t go as expected. This is great in itself, but main benefit from using child theme over just editing the base theme is that if you theme is updated you don’t lose all your hard work.

Child theme use to be easier to set-up only requiring adding a new theme folder and a CSS file with a @import line at the top to bring in the parent styling. The new method is more complicated and requires some PHP and additional lines to the child’s CSS but does give a developer more options to work including custom headers and templates. Fortunately the WordPress Codex has great documentation and the community on WordPress.org are great and filling the rest when you hit a snag during set-up.


  1. Am I right supposing that you are talking about adjusting an adult theme, not creating a children theme from the scratch.

    • @magecom Actually I was talking about creating a child theme, but by nature you’re not really a new theme from scratch as child themes inherit most of their PHP and CSS from the parent.

      Adjusting the the parent theme is not really the a good way to go if there’s a chance the theme will be updated, mainly be cause you never know what files on your site will be overwritten and you’ll lose any adjustments you made.