Cough and cold medicines specifically made for children under age 2 recently were removed from store shelves due to the potential for misuse. In addition, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration has recommended against giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children under age 6.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers parents plenty of advice on how to soothe their child's symptoms without medication:
When your child has a cold, make sure he or she gets plenty of rest and drinks extra fluids.
Use a suction bulb to clear the nose of a child too young to blow his own,and help or encourage an older child to blow his or her nose.
Consider using saline nose drops to soften the mucus. Drops can be made by adding ½ teaspoon of salt to 1 cup (8 ounces) of warm water. Use two to three drops per nostril at least four times a day or as often as needed for children over age 1. Kids under age 1 need only one drop at a time.
Protect the skin around stuffy noses with petroleum jelly.
Treat a fever and its accompanying aches and pains with ibuprofen or acetaminophen for children over age 6 months. Follow the recommended dosage by age. However, never give pain relievers to children who are vomiting continuously or dehydrated.
Sore throats can be remedied with cough drops or hard candy for children over age 4, and with warm chicken broth for kids over age 1.
Contact your pediatrician at the first signs of illness for infants younger than 3 months of age.