WordPress Child Themes Tutorial

WordPress Child Themes Tutorial

Do you need a child theme?

If you’re not satisfied with the customization options that the WordPress theme you’re using provides then you have to take matters into your own hands. Even if that theme gives you hundreds of options (like our themes do) there’s still something which probably doesn’t get your boat floating smoothly enough.

Or maybe you’re the extra creative type that really needs to make everything his own and is never satisfied. Or maybe you’re a serial killer, coming from a broken family, with a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and you’re just starting your first blog about hand-crafted torture equipment and we all know how picky serial killers can get. Too specific? Let’s move on.

Why do you need a child theme?

Yes, you can edit theme files directly, but then, when you make an update you’ll lose all your customizations and blame the theme developers for it. Or, option no. 2: you can choose to never update the theme after you make your changes. But that way you lose all future bug-fixes and extra features that come with future theme updates. Not to mention that one day you might completely forget about your customizations and hit that ‘Update’ button without giving it a second thought. Who are you going to blame then, ha? Ha? You’ll need a mirror for this one.

This is why it’s better to never touch theme files and unconditionally love and embrace WordPress’ child themes. It may take 5 minutes out of your life now but it will save you a lot more in the long run.

Can you handle the truth a child theme?

If you want to get things done your way, if you want the ultimate customization power at your fingertips you will have to go the extra mile. Don’t worry, it’s not an actual mile nor a kilometre – it’s more like a couple of yards/meters and we’re here to walk that distance with you. Multiple times if we have to.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • As you’ll have to add a few files to your server, you’ll need FTP access to the server and a FTP client (we’ll suggest one). This is recommended but not 100% necessary because after creating the child theme folder on your local machine you can archive that and upload it via WordPress (semi-manual installation). More on this later.
  • You’ll also need a text editor to edit those files (we’ll suggest one as well)
  • Basic understanding of CSS and maybe HTML and PHP. But these can be learned as you go especially since you’ll be copy-pasting and editing, not creating things from scratch.
  • A couple of minutes out of your busy blogging schedule

So basically you don’t have to know anything and if child themes sound just like what the doctor ordered and you want to get a solid grip on them, you are welcomed to move on to page 2 of our tutorial. It will take you on a step-by-step journey through WordPress child themes at the end of which you will have a solid understanding of anything child theme related.

If, on the other hand, you just want to create a child theme as soon as possible, we’ve also provided a WordPress Child Theme cheat sheet. It’s a one page go-to resource of everything you need when creating a child themes. So, what will it be? The blue pill or the red one? (actual color names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved)

About Kay

The creative mind behind Cryout Creations. In charge of all you see and a lot more. Has all the great ideas but never enough coffee to make them all happen; also the lead bug designer.
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27 Responses to WordPress Child Themes Tutorial

  1. Hello, I’m using Mantra theme and currently working for the child theme of it in order to keep my customization. I’ve been following this great tutorial for a while, but got stuck at “parent function removal’ thing and tried different ways in my whole day still haven’t figure it out. Hopefully you would like to help me out.
    For instance, I was trying to modify the display of breadcrumbs, the related function is mantra_breadcrumbs(). So I have done this as follow what you written in tutorial:

    function addon_mantra_breadcrumbs() {
    // My customization code here

    function replace_mantra_breadcrumbs() {
    add_action (‘cryout_before_content_hook’,’addon_mantra_breadcrumbs’,0);

    if($mantra_breadcrumbs==”Enable”) add_action (‘init’,’replace_mantra_breadcrumbs’);

    I don’t know why the old function of breadcrumbs is still there…

    • Zed says:

      function addon_mantra_breadcrumbs() {
      // My customization code here

      function addon_remove_mantra_functions() {
      remove_action ('cryout_before_content_hook','mantra_breadcrumbs',0);
      if($mantra_breadcrumbs=="Enable") {

  2. MajaCincovic says:

    Great article. I’ve been wanting to start building off of child themes and this really helped me understand it all.

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