1. Don’t jump in at the deep end.
Just because your child has a cold doesn’t mean you automatically have to cuddle them to sleep or bring them into your bed for the night (unless you want to of course). Try and think of a soothing ladder and take one step up the ladder by giving a little more soothing than normal and then see if that’s ok for your child.
This might look like an extra-long cuddle, a bit of a stroke and leaving the door ajar. If this doesn’t work, take another step up the ladder and give a little more soothing, maybe staying and stroking them until they’re very sleepy but not yet asleep. And continue stepping up the ladder little by little until you find a level that is acceptable to them but as low as you can get away with.
2. Try and keep one eye on the long term.
As tempting as it is to just open your bed to maximise sleep, if this isn’t something you want to continue with, try to find another way to get your child back off to sleep. That might mean you get a little less sleep that night. But you’re playing a long game here so if it takes twice as long but you can get them back to sleep in their own bed then you’re winning.
If you feel you need to monitor them throughout the night by co-sleeping then it’s better for you to sleep in with them rather than have them in your bed. It’ll be a lot easier for you to leave their room than it will be to remove them from yours.
3. Revert back as quickly as possible.
A cold is usually only very bad for two to three nights. The snot and mucus, however, can last for several weeks and generally bothers you more than it bothers your child. As soon as their temperature has dropped and they seem well in themselves again, it’s time to head back down that soothing ladder.
If they let you and depending on where your starting point was, you may be able to jump back down in one go. If not, step down one step at a time but don’t hang around for too long. It shouldn’t take more than a few days for a new habit to be formed. Be prepared that they might protest a little. But it won’t last for long if the habit isn’t too ingrained.