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Child Theme is the Best Way to Modify Your WordPress Theme

What is “Child Theme” in WordPress ?

A child theme is a WordPress theme that inherits its design and functionality from a parent theme, allowing users to customize their website without losing changes when the parent theme is updated.

To create a child theme, users must create a new directory and stylesheet, reference the parent theme’s stylesheet, and define modifications or additions. Child themes offer better organization and management of modifications and are an essential tool for WordPress website customization.

After creating a child theme, it can be easily activated from the WordPress dashboard just like any other theme. The modifications or additions made to the child theme will be visible on the website’s design and functionality while keeping the parent theme intact.

This makes child themes an ideal tool for WordPress website customization without the risk of losing changes when the parent theme is updated.

One of the key benefits of child themes is that they enable users to customize their website’s design and functionality without losing any changes when the parent theme is updated.

Additionally, they offer better organization and management of modifications made to the parent theme, making them an essential tool for WordPress website customization.

Why or When to Use a “Child Theme” ?

Here are some essential factors that highlight the importance of using a “Child Theme” in WordPress.

  • Ensure your modifications are portable and reproducible for seamless implementation.
  • Keep your customization distinct from the parent theme functions to avoid conflicts and ensure easy maintenance.
  • Enable hassle-free parent theme updates without the risk of losing your customizations.
  • Take advantage of the parent theme’s extensive testing and development efforts by implementing child themes.
  • Save development time by utilizing existing parent themes instead of starting from scratch.
  • Child themes offer an excellent opportunity to learn about theme development and enhance your skills.

If you enjoy creating customized PHP pages on WordPress, it’s crucial to consider using a Child Theme. For instance, I created an “APY Calculator” page using PHP and JavaScript.

When I store the PHP file within the theme folder, it’s lost upon updating the template. This happens because updating your template deletes all customizations, even if the PHP file doesn’t belong to the theme.

Furthermore, if you make any customizations to the styling CSS file or any PHP files of the theme, you’ll lose all changes upon updating to the latest version, if available.

How to Create a “Child Theme” ?

1. Create the “Child Theme” folder

In this example, I’ll be using the “magazinex” themeplate. Firstly, you will need to create a new child template folder under the same folder as your main template.

child theme folder

Under “wp-content/themes,” you should have a folder for both your main template and its child template. The template’s original folder name is “magazinex.” In contrast, I named the child template folder “magazinex-child”.

The recommended practice is to name a child theme the same as the parent theme, but add -child to the end.

2. Create a stylesheet: style.css

To continue the process, it’s critical to create a stylesheet file called style.css, which includes all the CSS rules and declarations that define your theme’s appearance.

Your stylesheet must start with a required header comment containing essential information about your theme, including its identification as a child theme with a specific parent.

Simply copy the top commented section from the original style.css in “magazinex” folder. Then, create a new “style.css” file under the child “magazinex-child” folder and paste the content in it.

child template .css file

Next, change the Theme Name from “MagazineX” to “MagazineX Child” or any name that you prefer. You will also need to add a new Template field because it identifies the parent theme on which your child theme is built to WordPress. See example below.

Theme Name: MagazineX Child
Template: MagazineX
Theme URI:
Author: WPBlockArt

Theme Name – Needs to be unique to your theme.

Template – This is the name of the parent theme directory. In our example, the name of the parent theme is magazinex, so the Template will be “magazinex.” However, if you’re working with a different theme, make sure to adjust accordingly.

3. Enqueue stylesheet

During this step, it’s necessary to enqueue the stylesheets for the parent and child themes. In the directory of the child theme, create a PHP file called functions.php. However, refrain from copying the code from the parent theme’s file to this one to keep them separate.

Then, add an opening PHP tag to the code and include the necessary functions to enqueue the parent theme stylesheet. Refer to the following example:

add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'enqueue_parent_styles' );
function enqueue_parent_styles() {
   wp_enqueue_style( 'parent-style', get_template_directory_uri().'/style.css' );

In WordPress, enqueue refers to the process of adding scripts and stylesheets to a page. It is a method that allows you to add external files, such as CSS or JavaScript, to your WordPress site’s pages and posts.

By enqueuing scripts and styles, you can ensure that they are loaded in the correct order and only once, which can improve the speed and performance of your website. Enqueueing also makes it easier to manage your site’s assets, as you can control which files are loaded on which pages and when.

Now, your child theme folder should contains both “style.css” and “function.php” files.

4. Activate you Child Theme

Finally, the last step is to activate your newly created “Child Theme.” Once you have completed the steps mentioned above, your new child template should be visible under the Themes settings.

activating child theme

All you need to do is click the “Activate” button to start using your child template.

Customizing Your Child Theme

With your child template in place, you can now customize it without any concern about breaking the styling or function of the original template.

If you have a custom PHP page that you want to implement in your template, you can easily store it in your child template folder. Even after updating the original template, your file won’t be lost or deleted.

Any file added to the child theme will override the corresponding file in the parent theme. To avoid losing any modifications made to the parent files, it’s best to create copies of the template files you wish to modify from the parent theme.

These copied files can then be modified in the child theme folder, without changing the original parent files. For instance, if you wanted to modify the code of the header.php file in the parent theme, you would copy the file to your child theme folder and customize it there.

Additionally, you can easily customize your CSS styling by navigating to Appearance and then clicking on Customize.

customizing child theme

Creating a child theme offers the benefit of a separate functions.php file for adding or removing specific features through PHP code, just like when creating plugins.

Adding a new function to your function.php file is easy if it doesn’t relate to existing functions in the parent theme. But if you want to change or override a parent theme’s function, the process can be slightly more complex, requiring manual overriding of the parent theme’s functions.


To summarize, a child theme in WordPress is a theme that receives its design and functionality from a parent theme. It provides users with the ability to customize or add to the parent theme’s design and functionality without the risk of losing any changes when the parent theme is updated.

This makes child themes a valuable asset for WordPress website customization.

Also, be sure to checkout this article if you want to speed up your WordPress. Enjoy !

Feature image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay

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