What is a Child Theme in WordPress? Do you need it?

What is a Child Theme in WordPress? Do you need it?

In WordPress, a child theme is considered a sub-theme that gets all of its features, style, and functionality from the parent theme. These are safe ways to make changes to the WordPress theme without really modifying the files of the parent theme.

When the parent theme is updated, all of the changes made in the child theme get preserved and applied on the latest version too. This is the reason why child themes turn out to be the best and safest way to edit your existing theme. This way, instead of modifying the files directly, you can seamlessly override them with a child theme template.

However, to make a child theme, you must have a folder created in the themes directory for the new theme. In this folder, the file that you would require is style.css. In the header section of this file, you will have to add a template line in the comment code to specify the parent theme. That sounds like a lot of coding!

In this post, let’s find out how you can create a child theme without any coding and using a plugin. We will also walk you through its importance and detailed overview of what a child theme is.

Do you need a child theme for WordPress?

When it comes to comprehending whether you need a child theme for your WordPress or not, there are a lot of reasons and benefits to highlight. To begin with, considering that the child theme gets its characteristics from a parent theme, you can easily customize the codes without creating any mess to the original theme’s functionality. Thus, whenever the theme is updated, changes will not be overwritten.

Another major reason to use a child theme is that it provides a fail-safe solution during times when you may mess up the edits. Furthermore, it lets you effectively keep track of the parts you have modified since the time the child theme got separated from the parent theme.

Steps to Create A Child Theme Using the Responsive Theme

If you are thinking about creating a child theme manually, know that you may have to invest a lot of time and efforts. Right from accessing the server to using an FTP client, copying as well as renaming files, and uploading new content to the server – there is a lot that goes into the manual method.

In such a scenario, using a WordPress plugin to create a child theme would be the best bet. Not just it will be a suitable option, but it is time-saving as well.

So, if you are using a Responsive theme, here is a step-by-step guide to creating a child theme.

  • On your WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New
  • Type Child Theme. Though you will find plenty of options in the list, for demonstration purpose we will use the plugin ‘child theme configurator’
  • Click Install Now and then Activate the plugin
  • Now on your WordPress dashboard, go to Tools > Child themes to customize the settings of your child theme.

Under settings, select the ‘create a new child theme’ option to create the child theme. 

You also need to select the theme for which you want to make a child theme of. For this guide we have used the Responsive WordPress theme. After selecting your theme click on Analyze.

Post this; you will find a variety of settings and options to change the name of the theme that will appear in the directory. 

 You also need to change the Child Theme attributes. This will allow you to customize the child theme, such as

  • Child Theme Name
  • Theme Website
  • Author
  • Author Website
  • Theme Description
  • Theme Tags

And more!

You can add the required information accordingly. Tick mark the box in front of Copy menus, widgets and other customizer settings from the parent theme to the child theme and click on Create New Child Theme.

To check whether your child theme has been created or not:

  • On your WordPress dashboard got to Appearance > Themes

Once there, you will find your child theme with the name you had given earlier.

Clicking on the theme will show you all of the details and information you entered while creating the theme.

The next step would be activating this theme. And to do so, simply scroll down and click on the Activate option.

If you wish to view the settings of your child theme, follow these simple and easy steps.

  • On the WordPress dashboard, hover your cursor on Appearance and click on Theme Edits
  • On the next page, you will see only a stylesheet and functions.php

However, if you activate the parent theme and then click on Theme Edits, you will find plenty of options, customizations and settings, which are missing in the child theme.

Thus, if you wish to copy any of the parent theme’s files to the child theme, follow these steps:

  • On the WordPress dashboard, hover your cursor on Tools and click on the Child Themes option
  • Under the files tab, you will find plenty of options
  • Choose all the files that you wish to copy
  • Click on Copy Selected To Child Theme

To check whether the files have been copied to the child theme or not, you will have to activate the Responsive child theme by following the steps mentioned above.

Now, even if you delete all the copied files, your website content will remain intact as all of it has been stored in the child theme.

Wrapping Up

WordPress child themes provide a powerful and significant way to create a completely new project on the basis of the existing parent theme’s features and functionalities. The good thing is all of this can be easily done without breaking or messing up with the core functionality of the website or the theme.

Just with a bit of straightforward directory management and coding, you can modify as well as alter the child theme however you would like; thus, offering an extensive range of design possibilities.

So, if you are using the Responsive theme and think that your one mistake can create a blunder on your website, create a child theme and keep your site safeguarded.

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