[Reprint from Helium.com]
As tempting as it may be to treat a child's cold in the same way you treat your own, children are not little adults. When children are sick, they don't always have the same symptoms as adults and they need to be given special considerations. However, in order to properly treat your child's cold, it's important to take into account their specific symptoms. To make your child more comfortable you can dispense pain or fever reliever, moisturizing nose drops, decongestants or other medications as needed based on symptoms.
Children suffering from a cold run a fever more often than adults do so a low-grade fever is not generally cause for alarm. If the fever goes above 102 degrees or lasts 3 or more days, you should consult your child's doctor to be sure a more serious condition has developed.
Children under the age of 2 should never be given over the counter cough or cold medicine. Children 2 and older should be given these medications using the utmost care. Be sure to use the measuring instruments that are provided with the medication-usually a special spoon or cup for proper dosage measurements. When you do give your child cough and cold mediation, be sure to give them medicine that treats only the symptoms they are experiencing and is specifically intended for children.
If your child does not have a cough, the medicine you give them should not contain a cough suppressant. If your child does not have a fever, the cold medication should not contain a pain reliever. It is very important to be very diligent about dispensing cold medicine to children. It is better to treat your child's symptoms one at a time to avoid overmedicating them. You should also check with your child's doctor to get dosage information based on your child's weight and age.
Aspirin should never be given to children under the age of 12. Aspirin should also never be given to children and teens during any viral illnesses. Giving aspirin to children or teenagers with a cold or other viral illness can increase the risk of developing Reye syndrome, a rare but serious condition that can be fatal.
Running a humidifier in your child's room will help relieve congestion and keep the nasal passages moisturized. You can also turn on the shower and take your child into a steamy bathroom for several minutes every few hours. It will help open up your congestion.
When your child is suffering from a cold it is important to force fluids. Water is the best fluid for your child to drink and a small amount of juice. Sodas should not be given and no more than about of your child's fluids should be replaced with electrolyte drinks.
The most important "treatment" for children with a cold is ensuring they get plenty of rest. Give your child plenty of opportunities for naps and limit his activity level to quiet, low-key activities.