A WordPress child theme is a theme that inherits the look and functionality of the parent (main) theme while providing you the flexibility of changing the aspect of a site’s appearance.
The parent theme is the complete theme that has in it all of the mandatory WordPress template files and assets for a theme to work, while a child theme is a sub-theme that enables you to make modifications to the main theme without touching the core files.
If the main theme is updated at any point, the changes you’ve made to the child theme remain intact.
How to Create a Child Theme if One Isn’t Included
Creating a child theme is as simple as creating a new folder in the themes directory and adding a style.css stylesheet that features a few required pieces of information.
The final step is the enqueuing part (loading the file); a process that’s well documented in the WordPress Child Themes almanac.
Rachel McCollin has also covered the process thoroughly for beginners in this guide:
You’ll want to use a child theme when you plan on making bigger changes to your design, and most premium WordPress themes will provide a blank starting point to help you do that.
Child Themes and Frameworks
Some themes are developed as child themes themselves, built from a third-party framework as the parent. The framework serves all the main styles and the basis to build from, then the child theme provides the stylistic changes for the theme itself.
Layers WP is an example of a framework like this, and many of the themes we feature as a starting point.
“Child themes are for presentation, whereas extensions are for extending functionality.” – Layers WP docs
Main Reasons for Using a Child Theme
The main reasons to use a child theme with WordPress are:
- To make any applied changes replicable and portable
- To make changes to a theme beyond what the WordPress customizer allows
- Save on development time by using the parent theme (or framework) as a separate foundation, simplifying the customization process
- Permit parent themes to be updated without destroying the applied modifications
- To learn WordPress development through experimentation and testing by using frameworks and child themes as a playground
Best Premium WordPress Child Themes
There are plenty of premium WordPress themes available right now on Themeforest built as child themes on the back of popular frameworks (like Layers WP). I’ve listed some of my favorites below.
Note: Besides these, most other WordPress themes on Themeforest come child theme ready–all set for you to download and start customizing!
Travelador is a customizable, beautiful and responsive premium WordPress child theme for the LayersWP framework and the SiteOrigin site builder. With a fully responsive design, multi-purpose layout and several header styles - this theme fits a wide range of website niches, beyond travel.
The developers have provided import files to make the set up even easier, and with the available page builder, customizable widgets and the possibility to add custom CSS, you won't go wrong with this theme.
Axiom is a modern-looking, portfolio-themed premium WordPress child theme that’s also build the for the LayersWP framework. With an emphasis on typography and a pixel-perfect design, the theme lets you show off your latest photos and videos by using a responsive portfolio grid.
With WooCommerce support, a one-click demo install feature and commercial plugins that come packed with the theme, this will surely let you supercharge your website and take it to the next level.
This is another premium child WordPress theme, built using the free WordPress site builder called Layers. Outfit is a theme that would well suit an agency or business/corporate website.
Built with the best practices in mind, the theme features a clean code, multiple layout styles including an e-commerce layout. With an easy to customize structure, truly unlimited colors and a fully responsive layout, the theme proves to be a great solution when it comes to picking a premium WordPress child theme.
Enaa, is a premium corporate WordPress theme that features five homepage variations, multiple color styles for its layout and a creative layout.
With fully responsive layouts, a clean and simple design and an advanced composer, this theme is another great pick amongst our choice of premium WordPress child themes.
Dawg is another LayersWP premium child WordPress theme that is tailored for your and your clients’ needs. With all of the pages being built on the Elementor plugin, you'll be able to fully edit all of the theme’s pages and their styles.
With a one-click install demo, a fully responsive layout and a simple and lightweight structure- Dawg is a great niche theme that you could use for your next website.
Dosa is a premium WordPress child theme based on the LayersWP framework that is oriented towards restaurants, cafes and food-related websites. Coming with a powerful reservation system that will permit for easy management of reservations, cancellations, confirmations and custom email messages for customers - this theme truly raises the bar.
The theme comes packed with an additional food menu list that lets you create food categories, add multiple prices for food items and highlights. Add to that a fully responsive design, Google web fonts and PSD templates, the theme also features the premium Slider Revolution plugin and the Business Hours Pro plugin that helps displaying the business hours of your restaurant or cafe.
Manual is a fantastically versatile creative WordPress theme, that includes a child theme for you to get up and running with the minimum of fuss.
Use this theme to effortlessly create and publish documentation, create knowledgebase help sites, user guides, forums, wikis and more. It's optimized for speed and even integrates with WooCommerce.
Purity is a clean and minimal creative WordPress theme that's responsive to view perfectly irrespective of viewport or device used.
It comes with extensive documentation and demo content to have you up and running in a matter of minutes. Fully compatible with the latest version of WordPress, Purity includes a child theme and has a one-click demo content install.
Roneous is an excellent choice for those wanting to build creative and stunning websites in minutes.
A 100%-responsive collection of themes, with included child themes and including a one-page demo, SaaSLand is fully Gutenberg and WooCommerce compatible.
SaaSLand includes loads of different themes from which to choose to suit your own particular project needs.
This concludes my showcase of premium WordPress child themes. I hope that the list I've put together combines both beautiful and functional website themes which you will find useful.
I'mcurious to know what are your favorite choices in the comment section below!
More Premium WordPress Themes With Creative Designs
- WordPress Themes25 Best Food Blog & WordPress Website Recipe Themes (Free & Premium)Brittany Jezouit
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- WordPress Themes25 Best Page Builder (Visual Composer) WordPress Themes to Make Sites QuicklyStelian Subotin
- WordPress Themes30+ Top Hotel Booking WordPress Themes (Reservation Websites 2021)Hermione Wright
Editorial Note: This post has been updated with contributions from Johnny Winter. Johnny is a staff writer with Envato Tuts+.
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