How To Install a WordPress Child Theme

So, you found a great looking child theme that would be perfect for your blog, but not sure how to install it? Installing WordPress child themes is pretty much the same as installing a “normal” theme. The only difference is you need both the parent theme and child theme uploaded to your WordPress theme directory. In this tutorial I’ll show you how to:

  1. Upload a parent theme of your choice via FTP
  2. Upload a child theme via FTP
  3. Activate the child theme

For this tutorial, I’ll be using the Thematic theme framework as the parent theme, although these steps could apply to any WordPress theme you’d like. I’m also going to assume you already have a working WordPress installation.

Upload the Parent Theme

Download the Thematic theme (from the page linked to above) and extract the zip file. Take the /thematic/ folder and upload it to your /wp-content/themes/ directory through FTP.

If you don’t have an FTP client, I would recommend FileZilla. It’s free and open source, kinda like WordPress.

Since this article is titled How To Install a WordPress Child Theme, and I’m assuming you want to install a child theme over the parent theme, this step is over.

Upload the Child Theme

The next step is to find a child theme that is designed to be installed over the parent theme you chose. In this case, I’ll be using the A Simple Love child theme for Thematic.

Similar to the previous step, you extract the /a-simple-love/ folder and upload it to the /wp-content/themes/ directory via your FTP client.

Activate the Child Theme

Now that you have both the parent theme and child theme uploaded, the final step is to activate the child theme. In your WordPress admin panel, simply navigate to the Appearance -> Themes menu, and select the child theme you selected. You don’t need to activate the parent theme. All that it needs to do is sit in the theme directory.


Hope you found this tutorial useful. I know a lot of this material seems pretty obvious to some of you. Keep in mind, however, this tutorial was meant for beginners who are looking to get started with child themes. Let me know what you thought of the tutorial in the comments.

You can find Leland on his other website, Theme Lab, where he frequently releases free WordPress themes, publishes reviews of third-party themes, and posts in-depth WordPress tutorials.

11 responses to “How To Install a WordPress Child Theme”

  1. Vanessa

    Hi, I am running into all sort of problems- I don’t seem to be able to install child themes! After I follow all your steps, and I go to the /wp-admin/themes.php page on my site (control panel, appearance, themes) the parent theme shows us, but the child theme doesn’t. I can find it below, under “Broken Themes” with the error message “Stylesheet is missing, template is missing”.
    I am using wordpress Version 2.7.1. I tried it on both my website to check if it was a WP installation issue, but I get the same problem. I also tried different parent/child themes (Hybrid/ Hybrid news, and the oen you use for your example). Do you have any recommendations?

  2. Vanessa

    It’s funny, because the parent theme works fine once it is installed. It’s the child theme that doesn’t come up. If you’d like to/ can take a look inside, we can arrange for that! You should have my email address. Thanks!

  3. Minhal

    I’m having the same problem as Vanessa. When I extracted the files for ‘sugar_cane’ (by Able Parris), it happens that there is a file in there, sugar_cane, that has no file extension. Furthermore, when I attempted to move those files into wp-content/themes directory, only THEMATIC showed up, not the ‘Sugar Cane’ child theme.

    Instead, I’m getting the “style sheet is missing” problem. Please help! Thanks.

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  5. Matt

    Hello everybody,
    I am using Hybrid as framework and Hybrid News as Child Theme. Have been struggling in the past days, to add my own logo to the header. Don´t really know how. Hope some of You can help me doing it. And then the slide image on the top also doesn´t appear. Don´t know why.


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