How to Install a Child Theme in WordPress?

How to Install a Child Theme in WordPress

WordPress offers unlimited customization options to match your needs and style. You can tweak the codes, update the functionalities, add various features, and much more.

But if you are not a WordPress professional, playing with codes can be risky. If you touch the wrong line of codes, it can break your whole website. It can cause unwanted problems as well if you are not careful. So, we recommend installing a child theme before you decide to modify your WordPress site. 

A child theme in WordPress lets you edit the theme as you want and quickly restore the original settings in case anything goes wrong. 

Now the question is, do you know how to install a child theme in WordPress? 

If not, don’t worry. This guide will show you two different methods to install a child theme on your WordPress. But first, we will begin with the introduction to the child theme. 

What is a WordPress Child Theme?

Many WordPress users don't know about a WordPress child theme. Let us tell you that it is no different from the usual WordPress theme. 

A child theme is a regular theme that inherits all its looks, design, features, and functionalities from another WordPress theme, that we call a parent theme.

Previously, there was no easy way to customize WordPress. The user had to change the original source code to bring changes to the site. This created havoc on their websites. Updating the theme became a hard choice for the users. This was when the WordPress community introduced the concept of a parent theme and a child theme. 

A child theme is an easy way to modify the existing theme. You can add or modify the parent theme without losing or giving up the ability to update it. 

Keep in mind that all the WordPress themes can have child themes, but not all themes are a good parent theme.

Why Do Users Use a Child Theme?

As mentioned above, using a child theme is an easy way to avoid WordPress vulnerabilities. You can modify the functionalities, add features, and style your site however you want without touching the current theme. 

With a child theme, you can create as many templates as with the parent theme. Moreover, you will not make your site vulnerable to any unwanted changes with a child theme. 

Pros and Cons of Using a Child Theme

Like most of the products, using a child theme also has its pros and cons. In this section, we will discuss them. 

Pros of Using a Child Theme

Below are the main advantages of a child theme. 

1. Safe Updates

A child theme automatically takes the shape of a parent theme. It carries all the design, templates, features, and functions of the current theme. The best thing about a child theme is that you don't even have to touch the parent theme to bring changes to your site. Also, when a new version of your parent theme is available, you can safely update the theme. All your changes will be saved in your child theme. 

2. Greater Flexibility

A child theme has a similar framework as the parent theme. It allows greater flexibility for adding or modifying your theme without touching the actual source code. You can change the templates and features of the theme and much more. You don't have to worry about the original settings as it is safe with the parent theme.

3. Backup Option

There is always a safe landing option with the child theme. When you are changing the codes in the child theme, you don't have to worry about possible mistakes on your site. All the original settings and codes are located in the parent theme. So, there is always a backup option in case you tangle with the codes or make any error.

Cons of Using a Child Theme

Here is a list of a few cons of using a child theme: 

  • You need to invest extra time to learn about the parent theme in detail.
  • Developers of the parent theme may abandon the project or remove the feature that you are using in your child theme. However, you can add the features back on your theme as you have the code on your child theme. Also, if you don't like the features, you can avoid updating the theme. Note: Updates are a crucial part of any theme, so we don't recommend skipping it. 

How to Install a Child Theme

We are certain that you now know what a child theme is along with its advantages and disadvantages. Now we will show you two different methods to install a child theme.

Method 1: Installing a Child Theme Using Admin Theme Search

Installing a child theme is similar to installing any WordPress theme. Here are the steps to install a child theme using the admin theme search. However, this method only works if you want to install a child theme for a free theme available on WordPress.org theme directory.

Here is how you do it: 

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard. 
  • Go to ‘Appearance‘ and click on Themes‘ on the left side. 
  • Click on the ‘Add New‘ button. 
Adding new Theme
  • A new screen opens up where you will see various tabs, such as ‘Featured,' ‘Popular,'Latest,' and ‘Favorites.' You can select themes under these options. You can also look for a specific theme using the ‘Search themes…' bar. 
Selecting New Theme
  • If you go to ‘Feature Filter,' you can sort the theme based on the specific features.
Selecting theme on the basis of feature
  • Check the features you want on your theme. Based on the features you select, a list of themes appears that contain those features.
  • Hover your cursor over the theme that you find perfect.
  • On doing so, an ‘Install' button appears. Click on it.
Installing new theme
  • WordPress now automatically downloads and installs the theme. It delivers an ‘Installed' message, once the installation is complete.
  • Click on the ‘Activate' button. 
  • You have successfully installed as well as activated the child theme using the Admin search.

Method 2: Installing A Child Theme Using a zip File

This method works for both free and premium WordPress themes. Firstly, download the zip file from the theme shop. Now follow the steps below: 

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  • Go to ‘Appearance‘ and click on ‘Themes.'
Adding new theme
  • Click on the ‘Add New' tab at the top of the page.
  • Click on ‘Upload Theme‘ at the top.
Uploading new theme
  • WordPress will prompt you to select the zip file.
  • Click the ‘Choose File' button and select the file you downloaded.
Installing downloaded Theme
  • Once you choose the file, WordPress installs the theme automatically. 
  • After the installation is complete, you can also see the ‘Activate‘ and ‘Live Preview‘ link.
  • Click on the ‘Activate‘ link.
  • You have successfully installed the WordPress child theme.

Note: WordPress automatically downloads and installs the parent theme when you complete the methods mentioned above. If it cannot find the parent theme, a message shows up saying, “broken” on the theme page. 

In such a case, install the parent theme following similar steps as in Method 2. Instead of choosing a child theme, select the parent theme, and click on the ‘Install Now' button. 

How to Create a Child Theme?

The above methods are for installing the child themes that are ready to be downloaded on your WordPress. However, if you want to create your child theme, this section will assist you.

Follow our lead: 

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  • Go to ‘Plugins' and click on ‘Add New.
adding new plugin for child theme
  • Search for ‘Child Theme Wizard‘ on the search tab. It is a free plugin that lets you create a child theme in no time with minimal effort. 
Searching child theme wizard plugin
  • Click on ‘Install Now‘ and ‘Activate‘ the plugin.
  • Now go to ‘Tools‘ and click on ‘Child Theme Wizard.
  • Select the parent theme from the dropdown button. 
  • Enter a name (title) for your child theme.
  • Click on ‘Create Child Theme' once you are finished.
creating child theme
  • You have successfully created a child theme. Now you need to activate it. 
  • To do so, go to ‘Appearance' on your WordPress dashboard. 
  • Click on ‘Themes.'
  • Look for the child theme you just created from the above steps.
  • Click on the ‘Activate‘ button.
  • You are done.

Wrapping Up

Installing a child theme in WordPress might seem like an intimidating task at first. But as you follow the steps we mentioned above, you may realize that it is quite easy. Moreover, creating a WordPress theme opens up new doors to a whole new world of customizations. You can experiment with the theme as much as you want without altering its base. 

Also, check out our article on How to Choose a WordPress theme.

Let us know your experience of installing and creating a child theme in the comment section below.

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