For children who are still nursing, keep doing it! This is the best thing you can do to keep your babe hydrated and strengthen her / his immunity and more likely than not, this may be the only thing your babe wants and / or will take anyway.
For weaned children and adults, avoid dairy, since I found it creates more mucus. Then feed loads of fresh fruit and warm drinks of lemon water with honey or try sage tea with honey; be careful not to use honey with infants.
Some people swear by eating raw garlic and onions for their antiseptic benefits. However, I am doubtful that any child will be willing to eat any of them raw, even when in perfect health. But, hey, worth a try!
Obviously hot baths with infusions are benefitial; try pine needles or rosemary, dried or fresh.
Coughs are a bit tricky. I found the worst is the scratchy in the throat, which is only soothed by drinking loads of ideally warm liquids. Great are syrups from berries (black currants) with honey as well as sage tea with honey.
For congested noses, I like to use saltwater douches. I know, this is kind of gross but it truely helps to get the mucus out and dry up the area. Use 1 teaspoon of seasalt for 2 cups of water. Be careful not to use too much salt.
To bring down temperatures, we soak towels in coldwater and wrap them around the calves. It doesn't feel too good but it works to bring down the temperature.
As with everything that we put into our bodies, I believe it is even more important during sick times: Please use organic produce to ensure best results and avoid that your body has to deal with additional intruders.
Generally, I do not like using medication to drive fever down unless the fever is really high. I believe, our bodies have great heeling powers and typically - if left alone - our bodies are equipped to deal with a cold and even most flus just fine.
In contrast, if you allow your body to heel itself, it is likely to generate more immunity and you may not become sick as often anymore. I believe, we all know some of those people, who have the flu and the cold all the time and keep taking loads of meds.
As the doctor in our house always likes to point out, "The hardest thing to do is simply NOTHING!"
Personally, I did not find that any cold meds could cure any of the colds I have ever had faster and agree with my mom, who used to say, "A cold lasts two weeks with meds and ten days without."
How to get meds into kids?
However, if the temperature goes too high in your little one, please use the fever reducers. And yes, they are not too crazy about taking this yucky stuff and you may need to resort to these tricks:
For very little ones: With the appropriate amount (read directions or ask a doctor) meds in a syringe, pour them into the little mouth and then immediately blow air into their face. This will make them swollow the stuff instead of spitting it out again.
For young children, I use orange juice (or any other juice that your child likes) with the appropriate amount of meds (read directions or ask a doctor) mixed together and chilled into a popsicle.
And most importantly: Do not send them to school! I know, we all want our kids to learn how to share but a cold is not one of the things that should be shared; no, seriously! The other moms (and the teachers!) will be eternally grateful!
"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis