WordPress Child Themes – WPQuickies

In this lunchtime #WPQuickies, I take a quick look at creating WordPress child themes.

WordPress Child Themes #WPQuickies webinar

In this webinar I cover the following topics.

Ways You Can Create A Theme For Your Site

You have many options when deciding how to develop a theme for your WordPress website.

  • Build a theme from scratch
  • Edit, or hack, an existing theme
  • Use the Customiser to tweak an existing theme
  • Use a theme framework like Genesis
  • Create your own parent theme and child theme
  • Create a child theme to makes changes to an existing theme

We’re going to look at the last option as it is generally the best practice option for beginners.

What is a Child Theme?

A child theme is a WordPress theme that inherits functionality from another theme named as the child theme’s parent theme.

You can make a child theme from any other theme.

Technically you can create a grandchild theme, that is a child theme of a child theme but it’s not best practice and creates an extra layer of complexity that will likely come back to bite you on the bum at some point.

The parent theme’s functionality is used until you override it in the child theme.

Why Use A Child Theme?

Basically to speed up theme development.  Choosing a good parent theme that has 80% of what you are looking for allows you to create a child theme and tweak the remaining 20%.  Save time – save money.

When To Use a Child Theme?

Decision is yours.  If you can find a theme that does 80-90% of what you are looking for, creating a child theme will save you time and money.

There are many niche theme’s on wordpress.org and other resellers such as studiopress and envanto.  If you can pay less than $100 to get 80% of what you are looking for – that’s a good ROI vs getting a bespoke theme developed at $1000’s.

Picking A Good Parent Theme

Picking a good parent theme is very important.

We’re using the 80-20 rule here as a rough guide to signal a good parent theme.

If you find yourself overriding more than 50% of the parent theme files then I would suggest you look for a better theme to be your parent theme.

Child Theme Pro’s and Con’s


  • The main pro for using a child theme is that you can update the parent theme and not overwrite the changes you have made (people who hack theme files).
  • You get parent theme functionality updates and security patches
  • Easy to modify templates – copy and modify, rather than develop your own


  • Learning curve to understand how the parent theme works – templates, hooks and filters
  • Parent theme developer makes radical change and drops functionality you use – doesn’t happen that often but not unheard of – use an old version or move to another theme

Watch More #WPQuickies

You can watch more #WPQuickies from the playlist on our WordPress Sydney YouTube channel.

The playlist is also embedded below, click the hamburger menu in the top right of the video to see the others in the series.

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Wil is a dad, WordPress consultant, WordPress developer, business coach and mentor. He co-organizes the WordPress Sydney meetup group and has been on the organising committee for WordCamp Sydney since 2014. He speaks at many special events and contributes to the WordPress open source project. His likes are chillies, craft beer and electrogravitics.