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Setting Up Child Themes in WordPress

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    In the WordPress ecosystem, themes serve as the backbone of your website, shaping its aesthetic appeal and determining its functionality. A well-coded theme is crucial, not just for user experience but also for site speed, responsiveness, and SEO.

    A child theme is a WordPress best practice, essential for customizing your site without affecting the parent theme. This ensures that your modifications are preserved during theme updates.

    What is a Child Theme?

    A child theme in WordPress acts like a protective cover for your parent theme, allowing you to make customizations without altering the original code. This setup protects your changes from being overwritten by updates, maintaining both functionality and design integrity over time.

    Why Use a Child Theme?

    Using a child theme ensures that your customizations are safe even when the parent theme is updated. It offers a secure way to modify your site, enhancing both maintenance and management.

    Creating a Child Theme Manually

    To create a child theme, you need FTP access to your site and basic HTML and CSS knowledge.

    Steps to Create a Child Theme Manually

    1. Via FTP, navigate to the /wp-content/themes/ directory and create a new folder for your child theme, e.g., my-child-theme.
    2. In this folder, create a style.css file with the following content:
    Theme Name: My Child Theme
    Description: This is a description of parent-theme-name.
    Author: Trevize
    Author URI: https://trevize.xyz/
    Template: parent-theme-name
    Version: 1.0.0

    Key Fields Explained:

    • Theme Name: The name of your child theme.
    • Description: A brief description of your child theme.
    • Author: Your name or your company’s name.
    • Author URI: The URL to your website.
    • Template: The directory name of the parent theme. It’s crucial to match the case exactly. For instance, if the parent theme’s directory is named Hello, write hello.
    • Version: Start with 1.0.0. Increment this number with future updates for easy version control.
    1. Add a functions.php file to enqueue the parent and child theme stylesheets:
    if (!function_exists('my_theme_enqueue_styles')) {
        add_action('wp_enqueue_scripts', 'my_theme_enqueue_styles');
        function my_theme_enqueue_styles() {
            wp_enqueue_style('parent-style', get_template_directory_uri() . '/style.css');
            wp_enqueue_style('child-style', get_stylesheet_uri(), array('parent-style'));
    1. Activate your child theme from the WordPress dashboard.

    Adding Customizations to Your Child Theme

    With your child theme activated, you can now safely make customizations to the functions.php file or add specific templates to enhance your site’s functionality. Across many tutorials online, you’ll often see the instruction to “add this to your child theme’s functions.php file.” This is the very file we’re discussing. Modifying it in your child theme ensures that your changes remain intact through updates to the parent theme, allowing you to customize functionality without altering the core structure of the theme itself.

    Is a Child Theme Always Necessary?

    While child themes are crucial for preserving significant customizations, there are instances where you might not need one. For example, if you’re using external plugins to add PHP snippets or CSS, you won’t have to modify the parent theme’s functions.php or style.css files directly. In such cases, the necessity of a child theme diminishes, as these plugins can manage minor tweaks without risking the integrity of the parent theme.


    Child themes are vital for safeguarding your WordPress customizations and ensuring smooth updates of the parent theme. They provide flexibility and security for site customization, making them indispensable for effective WordPress site management.

    At Trevize, we leverage child themes to build robust WordPress sites, ensuring that every modification is securely preserved without compromising the ability to update the parent theme for security enhancements or feature improvements.

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