What is a child theme? A child theme is a theme for a WordPress website that uses the functions and layout of a parent theme.
Before we address the question of what a child theme is, let’s first talk about themes in general.
In WordPress, a theme is a template for your website. There are a large number of free themes available over at WordPress.org. These free themes can be used for pretty much any kind of website. There are themes that are perfect for food blogs, or for artist portfolio websites. There are free WordPress themes ideal for shopping cart websites.
Basically, any kind of website you can think of, there are some great themes available, many of them free.
Better yet, many of these themes have customization options, called “theme options” which can help you make this theme yours.
This means you can get started with a WordPress website easily.
So What is a Child Theme For?
The issue of child themes comes up when you need a little more customization to the theme you picked out than you can do with the “theme options.”
You could edit the theme of your choice directly to personalize it. The problem is, as soon as there is an update for the theme, you’ll lose all of your customizations.
By making a child theme from that parent theme, your theme’s functions will update when the parent theme’s developer updates the theme. But, your customizations in the child theme will not change or disappear.
A parent theme, by the way, is just a theme that you’ve based a child theme on. Any WordPress theme can be a parent theme.
Making Your Own Theme vs a Child Theme
You might be wondering what the point of making a child theme is. Why make a child theme instead of just creating your own theme from scratch?
This is a great question.
The idea behind it is not to reinvent the wheel. By using a well-made theme as a parent theme, your child theme will have all of the functions and basic layout features without as much work.
Basically, with a child theme, you’re letting the creator of the parent theme do the hard part for you.