Why should you create a child theme and how?

An image showing a big and small wooden bunny, looking identical and implicating a child theme.

When you download and install a theme for your blog, always create a child theme before you start making any changes.

Why should you create a child theme?

 Just like there are frequent updates to plugins you have downloaded, and to WordPress, creators also update their themes to take out any bugs, or add some functionality. When you have made changes to your theme, and you install the update, some or all of those changes can be overwritten. However, if you use a child theme, you can customize and tweak to your hearts content, and an update will not overwrite it.

This is because a child theme inherits its functionality, features and code from the parent theme. So when you update the parent theme, the child theme still depends on the main theme, but your changes are not lost.

How do you create a child theme?

You can create a child theme in your cPanel (or any other name your host gives this – please note, this is not your WordPress dashboard, but the dashboard on your hosting) where you navigate to the folder: public_html > wp-content > themes. Now in this folder you can follow a couple of steps to create your child theme, but if you are like me, I prefer to do it the ‘easy’ way.

There are a couple of plugins out there that will help you to create a child theme, but one I have found to work the easiest is: Child Themify. This is how you create a child theme with this plugin:

  • Install your chosen theme.
  • In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance – Create Child Theme
  • In the top dropdown field, choose the parent theme for which you want to make a child theme.
  • Name your child theme (I always just add ‘child’ to the name of the parent theme).
  • Click the button ‘Create Child Theme’ and voila, you have a child theme.
  • Now go to themes and activate the child theme you have just created, and you are ready to modify your theme to your heart’s content, without losing those changes when the parent theme is updated.

When is it not necessary to use a child theme?

If you are really (really, really) sure that the theme you have chosen has all the functionality you need, and you will use it as is, it’s not necessary to use a child theme.

Image from Pixabay

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