What Is a Child Theme in WordPress?

What Is a Child Theme in WordPress?

What is a child theme in WordPress, and why should you always install one on every website?

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Here is a post that might save you hours or even days of aggravation later. I have learned this from the top webmasters in and around cyberspace and through various online forums.


Are you building a new WordPress site, or even thinking of building one in the foreseeable future?

If so don’t be fooled, some here might tell you it’s unnecessary.

However, you should always FIRST convert your site to a Child Theme.

You should always convert your new WordPress site - using ANY theme - into a Child Theme before further customizing or doing ANYTHING to your site.

Particularly if you don’t want all of your hard work to disappear without a trace one day when you receive an unexpected update from WordPress, I HIGHLY recommend that you first convert your site into a Child Theme.

What is a child theme in WordPress, can wear different hats

So let me now explain to you exactly what is a child theme in WordPress.

You will surely reap the benefits of this great newfound knowledge, and the peace of mind knowing you created a child theme will be indispensable.

Believe me, you will thank me later.

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What is a child theme in WordPress, a simple explanation

A Most Simple Explanation:  What is a Child Theme in WordPress?

A child theme is an exact copy of your parent theme site. In other words, if you set the child theme up without adding any code, the site with the child theme would be EXACTLY the same as the parent theme.

The main advantage of a child theme is that the code is separate from the parent theme, which means that the parent theme can be updated at any time without losing any changes that you've made.

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Thus a child theme inherits all the attributes and functions of the parent theme, while protecting all of your customizations from being overwritten when the parent theme is updated. You can continue to update the parent theme as updates are released safe in the knowledge that your child theme will remain unchanged by the updates

Now that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?

But here’s the bottom line….

This is a HUGE safeguard of your indispensable work!

A Child Theme is set it and forget it

With a child theme, it’s basically “set it and forget it.” Once it is installed, there is little further maintenance. For such a small amount of time investment, why chance losing everything?

WordPress makes it super easy to install a child theme with a simple plugin.

Here, let me show you how.

Here is what I recommend

Here is the Child Theme I Recommend

There are several child theme plugins out in WordPress Land that you can download and use.

However, the child theme plugin I personally recommend to use is Child Theme Configurator, which within a few clicks, will have your Child Theme installed within minutes!

This plugin has never failed me.

Child Theme Configurator

I first used this plugin when I commenced building my interior design site less than 6 months ago. Being a total newbie to WordPress at the time, you can bet I was slightly apprehensive, and I had many questions. Surely very much the same feelings some of you may now be experiencing.

Child Themes helped me to never have a single problem with my website

Honestly though, looking back I have not had one single problem ever losing ANY information on my site despite all of the WordPress updates and changes that have happened since. And there have been several.

And I owe this all to installing the Child theme.

Why you should use a child theme

Reasons for Using Child Themes

Part of the reason I wrote this post” What is a Child Theme in WordPress” is as some of you already know, I am getting ready to build the new 9/11 movie site and also 2 new niche sites of my own.

Creating this post allows me to review information I already know but haven’t been focusing on lately.

The other reason is a very well-established colleague whose knowledge I highly respect and have been conversing with was under the impression that using a child theme wouldn’t be necessary when using a special theme. He even admitted to me he’s never used child themes or is very familiar with them.

Perhaps there was never reason that he had to.

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Sure this is certainly true IF you only intend to use the theme Customizer under Appearance > Customize, then those settings will not get lost or reset after a theme update or after switching to another theme and then switching back to the original / prior theme.

But that’s not the level of customization control you should be settling for. I learned this the hard way. When I built my previous site I thought I would be limiting myself to only the Customizer too, but that didn’t happen.

Even if you are expecting to “keep it simple” and to only work within the Customizer, believe me you will encounter unanticipated challenges like I did where you will need to customize a font, an image, or a header beyond the scope of the Customizer.

Child Theme unexpected challenges

Here you will DEFINITELY need that child theme or else lose your valuable CSS code changes. That means (you guessed it!) you will need to employ some basic coding. But you don’t need to be a coding expert to accomplish this. You don’t even need to know how to code. You only need to be resourceful. Hint: Everything is on Google.

Now you can feel free to change the CSS code, your header, or any custom design features on your site from the backend, without ever worrying that you will LOSE your hard-earned and indispensable work!

As long as you have the peace of mind that you FIRST converted your site to a Child Theme!


Conclusion:  What is a Child Theme in WordPress

Here I will leave you with a very simple training on how to install your Child theme.

It’s so simple some of you may not even need this, but I am going to place the training here for everyone anyway.

CLICK the link below to access my very simple training on how to install and make your Child theme:

How To Make A WordPress Child Theme

Im Superman with a child theme

I certainly hope this simple introductory post has helped you to gain an understanding what is a child theme in WordPress.

It was an eye-opener!

In addition, I hope it has "opened your eyes" to the importance of using a Child Theme.

Feel free to leave any comments below as all are welcome!

About the Author

KAJU is the band leader and founding member of OFF THE HOOK, one of the premiere dance party bands in the New York Tri-State Area. After contracting a mysterious hand disorder, Kaju now writes to help other musicians and artists deal with disabilities. Currently he is a Full-time Affiliate Marketer and 1-on-1 mentor at Wealthy Affiliate, a community that can help anyone start an online business without prior experience. This is where he teaches others how to make a great passive income. Read more about his story here!

  • Saane says:

    I have just followed all your instructions and followed your training link – I am so happy to have done this.

    I heard about child-themes but always got a mixed review about its importance in maintaining our websites. I can now see how important it is, for any future mishaps. I would probably go crazy if I lost all my hard work.

    Thankfully your blog could not have been discovered at a more perfect time.

    I have just built a new website with a new domain in WordPress and your ‘Easy-Peasy Child Theme Set Up’ was straight forward and it really was easy to set up.

    Thanks for adding that training link it was most helpful indeed. I have learned something new today, and added more value to my site, as well.

    • Kaju says:

      This is indispensable knowledge, Saane, I am SO happy that you followed my training. Many, many people have and all set up their Child Theme in a “easy-peasy” flash!
      Creating Child Themes on ALL of your websites are so important, and they will save you from losing your hard earned work when the Parent theme updates come in:)

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