Do I really need a Child Theme?

Whether you’re new to WordPress or you’re a power user, you definitely should be using a Child Theme. Over the course of your WordPress site, you will eventually make changes that will require editing the functions.php file of your theme. Some plugins might require you to add a code snippet or you need to add new shortcode for your custom post type, whatever the reason you definitely don’t want to lose your work.

The functions.php file is the entry point for customizations your WordPress theme creates. So instead of modifying the file that contains your themes code a child theme would allow us to add our own code on top of the theme we’re using. That way, whenever the theme requires an update, your code isn’t overwritten. A child theme allows you to change small aspects of your site’s appearance yet still preserve your theme’s look and functionality.

theme editor screen grab
Theme Editor

How to create a child theme

Sometimes your theme will come shipped with a child theme and sometimes it wont. In case your theme doesn’t come with a child theme here is the easiest way to create a child theme in WordPress.

  • Download and Install the Child Theme Wizard plugin for WordPress. This plugin installs a blank child theme with minimal steps.
screen grab of child theme wizard plugin
  • After you install and activate Child Theme Wizard, navigate to Tools > Child Theme Wizard
  • On the Child Theme Wizard Menu you will select the parent theme ( the theme you want for your site) and enter additional details (not all are necessary and can be left blank)

Once you click “Create Child Theme” a child theme has been created and you can now set your current theme to your child theme. Your main theme (the parent theme you selected) will still apply to your site. You just now have a child theme associated with it. Now you can edit the functions.php file without worry about overwriting the file when your theme updates.

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