If you are one of those who is searching for a good customizable theme for your new blog, or someone who just wants to tweak the look and feel of your theme to your current needs, chances are that you might have come across the term “Child theme” or “Parent theme” and wondered what it means and how to use it on your site. In this short tutorial, we explain what a child theme is, and the step by step process to install child theme on your WordPress blog or website.
Why use a Child theme?
The problem with using a WordPress theme is that when it gets an update, an important security patch, or bug fix, then all the custom styling and functions added by the user would also get overwritten by the new update. This left the theme user in a tricky situation, where the user would have to re-write the customization code all over again.
On the Dashboard > Updates page or in Appearance > Themes, you can see which theme updates are available. If you hit Update there, then all your current theme customizations be it in style.css, functions.php or any other file, all those changes would be overwritten.
To solve this problem, the development community at WordPress came up with the child theme concept.
What is a WordPress Child theme?
Simply put, a child theme is a theme that inherits all the functionality, looks, and the code of the parent theme. This child theme would allow the user to modify the features of the theme without losing all the customization in the case of an update of the parent theme. That way you can keep your customization files in the child theme and also keep updating your parent theme without worrying about losing all your hard work.
Do note that a child theme can’t work on its own without a parent theme or a theme framework. This means that when you install a child theme, the parent theme must be installed too, although you don’t need to activate the parent theme.
What is a WordPress Parent theme?
Any theme can be a parent theme. The parent theme lends all its functionality and features to the child theme.
The concept of child and parent theme is very popular when using WordPress theme frameworks. These frameworks can be used as a strong base upon which child themes can be built on.
So now that’s out of the way how do you start using a child theme on your WordPress site? There are just two simple steps. We will walk you through both the steps in detail.
Step 1: Install WordPress Child Theme
First, you will need to install the child theme. Installing a child theme is very simple. Do it like you would install any other WordPress theme.
Head over to the WordPress admin area, On the left-hand side, click on Appearance » Themes.
Once there, click on ‘Add New’ button.
Type the name of the child theme in the search box. Once found, click on the install button to install the theme
If the theme you want to install is in a .zip format, you will first need to upload the file by clicking on the ‘Upload Theme’ button, then select the zip file, and press the ‘Install Now’ button.
Step 2: Install WordPress Parent Theme
After installing the child theme, WordPress automatically installs its parent theme which means your work is done, and you are good to go. In case it fails you will need to manually install the parent theme.
To manually install the parent theme, go to your parent theme website and download the zip file.
Go to Appearance > Themes page and click on the Add New button.
From the next page, click on ‘Upload Theme’ button. Then click on ‘Choose File’, select the zip file, and press the ‘Install Now’ button.
That’s all you need to do to install WordPress child theme. Now you can make all customizations you need to the child theme without worrying about losing it.