Functions of a Child Theme in WordPress

Hello friends. You might have heard a lot about WordPress child themes. But you won’t have much idea about what it is. A child theme in WordPress is essentially a way to customize an existing theme (called the parent theme) without directly modifying its code.

In this article, we are going to explain the concept of a child theme in a very easy-to-understand way along with its benefits.

Using Child Themes

A child theme is a theme that inherits its functionality from a parent theme. By using a child theme, you can make changes to your site’s design and functionality without affecting the parent theme. This is extremely useful if you want to make customizations to a theme but still want to be able to update the parent theme without losing your changes.

You may be aware that when a WordPress theme is updated and put on a website, any customizations made to the theme are lost. Now, if you want to adopt an existing theme but retain the ability to update it without losing your work, developing a child theme is a better option than modifying the theme directly.

Additionally, you would utilise a child theme in conjunction with a theme framework, or if you have established a starter theme or framework that you wish to use as the basis for all future projects, adding additional functionality to the child theme or via plugins as needed.

In addition to updating the parent theme without losing your customisations, another advantage of using a child theme is that it can help you speed up the development process. This is because you can start with a pre-built theme and then make the necessary changes, rather than starting from scratch.

The Parent/Child Theme Relationship

In theory, any theme can be used as a parent theme; thus, you are not limited to specially developed parent themes (although some themes, such as those that power theme frameworks, are designed specifically as parent themes and would not function independently).

The relationship between parent and child themes can be summarised as follows:

  • WordPress defaults to using template files contained in the child theme. If both themes have a version of the same template file (e.g., index.php), WordPress will use the one from the child theme.
  • Where a template file is required, and the child theme doesn’t have it, WordPress will use the file from the parent theme. Therefore. You wouldn’t bother creating a template file for your child theme if it were identical to that in the parent theme.
  • WordPress uses the stylesheet in the child theme. In most cases, it also uses styling from the parent theme’s stylesheet, but only if you specify that in the child theme’s stylesheet—by adding the @import tag.

How to Create a Child Theme for Your WordPress Theme

To create a child theme, you must install and activate it on your WordPress site first. Afterwards, create a new folder with the child theme’s name in wp-content/themes/. Inside this folder, create two files: style.css and functions.php. The style.css file should begin with a header with details such as Theme Name, Description, Author, Template (name of the parent theme), etc.

In addition to these two files, you can also add other files like template files or JavaScript if necessary.


In this article, we discussed the importance of child themes and showed you how to create a child theme for your WordPress site.

Child themes are an essential part of WordPress development, as they allow you to make changes to your site’s design and functionality without affecting the parent theme. We highly recommend using a child theme if you’re planning to build a WordPress site.

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Raj Maurya

Raj Maurya is the founder of Digital Gyan. He is a technical content writer on Fiverr and freelancer.com. When not working, he plays Valorant.

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