Update for 2016: By the 4th kid I'm hardly doing any of the stuff in this post. What I am doing is saline nasal spray and a Nose Frida. The combo is magical! I do also like eucalyptus essential oil (I buy mine cheap online) in a diffuser in the room with some lavender and tea tree oils as that really seems to help with coughs and breaking up congestion.
Evelyn has been struggling through a bad cold for a week and a half. It seems like every time we visit family and friends she comes home with something! I know it's good for her immune system to work through illness as a baby, but it's so hard to have her suffer! I found a great book (Natural Baby and Childcare) that offers some great home remedies and herbal remedies to help babies and children recover from all sorts of issues...although the work for adults just as well. I figured I would pass along what it says about colds because it's the season for all kinds of them.
Hydrogen Peroxide: helpful at the onset of symptoms. Place 4 drops (3%) into both ears.
Onion: improves circulation and breaks up thick mucus and congestions. It helps soften lymph nodes, soothing painful swollen glands in the neck. For colds, an onion pouch in a child's room can help with congestion. Using a cloth or sock, make an onion pouch of chopped onion, securely tied. Place near the child on the nightstand, by the the bed, or above the crib, and leave it overnight.
For chest colds, place an onion poultice (chopped onion warmed with hot water then wrapped in a light cotton cloth) on the chest and wrap with a scarf. Onion poultices can also be applied to the feet by way of onion socks (putting a small poultice in your child's sock then having them wear them to bed).
For swollen glands, place a cloth envelope of chopped onion over the swollen glands and wrap with a scarf. In addition to treating colds, onion poultice socks can be used for earaches, teething, and bladder infections.
Lemon: Lemon is good for tickle in the throat or chest (tickly cough), watery runny nose or eyes (opposite of onion which is good for thick discharges), sore throat, and high fevers. Lemon can be applied as a throat wrap, throat and chest compresses (line up the lemons in a cloth), foot bath, and room inhalation (put fresh lemon juice in with the water in a vaporizer).
Potatoes: Potatoes break up congestion, which makes them useful in alleviating sore throats, coughs, headaches, neckache, muscle pain, and chilliness. Potato poultices around the throat and chest are an excellent source for moist heat and retain temperature longer than a hot water bottle.
Breast Milk: A few expressed drops in the nose and eyes will kill any bacteria living there due to the antibodies found in breast milk. It's also the best food for baby while sick for the same reason.
Probiotics: Help support baby's immune system and allow their gut to fight off bad bacteria and yeast.
Hope this helps you survive cold and flu season!