WordPress child themes

  • Front End Designer & Developer at LBDesign, a global communications consultancy
  • Instructor for the Women's Coding Collective of WordPress Basics and JavaScript & jQuery courses
  • TA & Volunteer for GirlDevelopIt


  • You manage a WordPress site
  • You have a blog that's powered by WordPress
  • You want to learn more about WordPress theme development
  • You want to get your feet wet in PHP and CSS
  • You want to be able to customize your website


  • What is a child theme?
  • Why use a child theme?
  • How to create a child theme
  • Three examples of what we can
    do with a child theme

What WE'll Cover

A Child Theme is a theme that inherits the styles and functionality of another theme, but lets us override and add our own elements without touching any of the Parent Theme's code

What is a child theme?

Why use a child theme?

#1 Rule

never modify wordpress files

  • Using a child theme prevents our changes from being lost when there's an update to WordPress core or when the original theme author releases an update
  • Great way to ease into custom theme development & learn PHP

Why use a child theme?

How to create a child theme

  1. Child Theme Directory
  2. style.css
  3. functions.php

Child theme directory


Two Necessary Files


 Theme Name:   Twenty Fifteen Child Theme
 Theme URI:    http://themeuri.com/twenty-fifteen-child/
 Description:  Twenty Fifteen Child Theme
 Author:       Lauren Pittenger
 Author URI:   http://laurenpittenger.com
 Template:     twentyfifteen
 Version:      1.0.0
 License:      GNU General Public License v2 or later
 License URI:  http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html
 Tags:         light, dark, two-columns, right-sidebar, responsive-layout, accessibility-ready
 Text Domain:  twenty-fifteen-child



add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'child_theme_enqueue_styles' );
function child_theme_enqueue_styles() {

    wp_enqueue_style( 'parent-style', get_template_directory_uri() . '/style.css' );




Now we can activate our baby!



Child theme looks & behaves
exactly as parent theme

Now what?

  1. Style changes
  2. Template changes
  3. Function changes

Basic Style changes

.page-header {
    border-left-color: orange;

.entry-footer {
    background: url('images/bg.png') repeat;
    color: white;
.entry-footer a {
    color: white;

#sidebar {
    background: #772322;
    color: white;
.widget-title, #sidebar a {
    color: white;

Little bit fancier Style changes

* {
    font-family: 'Andika', sans-serif;

.site-title {
    font-family: 'Underdog', serif;
add_action( 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 'child_theme_enqueue_styles' );
function child_theme_enqueue_styles() {

    wp_enqueue_style( 'google-fonts', 'http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Andika|Underdog');
    wp_enqueue_style( 'parent-style', get_template_directory_uri() . '/style.css' );


Function changes

Template changes

Template changes

  1. Figure out where you want your change
  2. Find the appropriate parent theme template (header.php)
  3. Copy template into child theme, preserving its file name
  4. Edit away!

Adding Banner Image

<img src="<?php echo get_stylesheet_directory_uri(); ?>/images/header.jpg">

Locating Theme Directories

  • The Parent Theme Directory
    • get_stylesheet_directory()
    • get_stylesheet_directory_uri()
  • The Child Theme Directory
    • get_template_directory()
    • get_template_directory_uri()

Any Questions?

WordPress Child Themes

By Lauren Pittenger

WordPress Child Themes

Learn how to set up a WordPress child theme

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