I've been messing around / searching for hours and still can't get this to work, so i'm finally giving in and asking for some help.

I'm trying to write a custom walker that shows only the current pages children, or if there are no children display the pages siblings.

For example, take the following menu tree:

  • 1.0
    • 1.2.0
      • 1.3.0
      • 1.3.1
      • 1.3.2
    • 1.2.1
    • 1.2.2
  • 2.0

Let's assume that i am on the current page 1.2.0. On this page I want to display it's children (1.3.0, 1.3.1, 1.3.2)

however, if i'm on the page 1.2.2, since it doesn't have any children, it should display it's current level siblings, so it should show me (1.2.0, 1.2.1, 1.2.2).

  • 4
    Please move your solution to an answer so that it's more clear for others and questions doesn't haunt site as unanswered.
    – Rarst
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 16:30
  • What @Rarst said! I almost missed that you'd come up with a solution. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 1:36
  • Necro answer. I asked more or less the same question on SO about 2 years ago with a very good answer. stackoverflow.com/questions/5826609/…
    – Stoosh
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 0:48
  • Moved answer inside question to separate answer. OP: Please follow up there.
    – kaiser
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


This is the walker I used to display only children of the current menu item. Or the menu items siblings if it doesn't have any children of its own.

There are comments throughout the class explaining each section


class SH_Child_Only_Walker extends Walker_Nav_Menu {

private $ID;
private $depth;
private $classes = array();
private $child_count = 0;
private $have_current = false;

// Don't start the top level
function start_lvl(&$output, $depth=0, $args=array()) {

    if( 0 == $depth || $this->depth != $depth )

    parent::start_lvl($output, $depth,$args);

// Don't end the top level
function end_lvl(&$output, $depth=0, $args=array()) {
    if( 0 == $depth || $this->depth != $depth )

    parent::end_lvl($output, $depth,$args);

// Don't print top-level elements
function start_el(&$output, $item, $depth=0, $args=array()) {

    $is_current = in_array('current-menu-item', $this->classes);

    if( 0 == $depth || ! $is_current )

    parent::start_el($output, $item, $depth, $args);

function end_el(&$output, $item, $depth=0, $args=array()) {
    if( 0 == $depth )

    parent::end_el($output, $item, $depth, $args);

// Only follow down one branch
function display_element( $element, &$children_elements, $max_depth, $depth=0, $args, &$output ) {

    // Check if element is in the current tree to display
    $current_element_markers = array( 'current-menu-item', 'current-menu-parent', 'current-menu-ancestor' );
    $this->classes = array_intersect( $current_element_markers, $element->classes );

    // If element has a 'current' class, it is an ancestor of the current element
    $ancestor_of_current = !empty($this->classes);

    // check if the element is the actual page element we are on.
    $is_current = in_array('current-menu-item', $this->classes);

    // if it is the current element
    if($is_current) {

        // set the count / ID / and depth to use in the other functions.
        $this->child_count = ( isset($children_elements[$element->ID]) ) ? count($children_elements[$element->ID]) : 0;
        $this->ID = $element->ID;
        $this->depth = $depth;
        $this->have_current = true;

        if($this->child_count > 0) {

            // if there are children loop through them and display the kids.
            foreach( $children_elements[$element->ID] as $child ) {
                parent::display_element( $child, $children_elements, $max_depth, $depth, $args, $output );

        } else {
            // no children so loop through kids of parent item.
            foreach( $children_elements[$element->menu_item_parent] as $child ) {
                parent::display_element( $child, $children_elements, $max_depth, $depth, $args, $output );


    // if depth is zero and not in current tree go to the next element
    if ( 0 == $depth && !$ancestor_of_current)

    // if we aren't on the current element proceed as normal
    if(! $this->have_current )
        parent::display_element( $element, $children_elements, $max_depth, $depth, $args, $output );

Attach it like you would with any other custom walker on a wp_nav_menu

wp_nav_menu( array(
    'menu' => 'primary-menu'
    ,'container' => 'nav'
    ,'container_class' => 'subpages'
    ,'depth' => 0
    ,'walker' => new SH_Child_Only_Walker()
  • I want to point out @Stoosh's comment pointing here. stackoverflow.com/questions/5826609/… as this is another good solution
    – jchamb
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 3:38
  • This worked great for me still in 2020, good work! :)
    – Gcamara14
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 21:14

I had a similar experience. You may want to think about moving the pages logic out of the walker. Basically, compile the current page hierarchy as an object. Then use the 'exclude' parameter in the wp_nav_menu function. Now the excluded pages would depend on if the current page has children. If no children show brothers; if children && those children are the end of the line show brothers and children; if children && and grandchildren exist exclude brothers and show children and grandchildren.

  • What is this exclude parameter to which you refer? I'm looking at the documentation and don't see any reference to it. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 1:35
  • 1
    I apologize I was mistaken. You are correct that there is no 'exclude' parameter. I meant to use "wp_list_pages" function. Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 15:51
  • Very good, and no worries. I was just curious if there was something undocumented but in the back end—I have seen that happen before. Thanks for clearing it up! I hadn't thought of using wp_list_pages() in this context, so that's an interesting idea. Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 18:09

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