Tips for easing kids' colds and coughs

There's not much parents can do to keep their kids from picking up a cold this time of year. And while there is no cure, doctors do have some advice for helping children through the inevitable bout of coughing, sniffling and fever.

Dr. Dyan Hes of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York says a common cold typically lasts 7 to 10 days, tops. "If your child is coughing for a month, you should definitely see a doctor. That is not a common cold," she told CBS News' Alison Harmelin.

But for dealing with routine cold bugs, these tips can help:

Try a humidifier. A cool mist humidifier helps keep nasal passages moist and ease congestion.

Use saline drops or sprays. Saline drops for younger kids or a nasal spray for the older set can loosen mucus and help children breathe easier.

Drink plenty of fluids. Your grandma was right: it helps. Keep children hydrated with water, juice or broth, which can also loosen congestion.

Get some rest. Sick kids need to rest and stay home from school and other activities until they bounce back.

Use medications wisely. Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines are not recommended for children under 2 years old. Even for older children, while they may lessen symptoms, cold and cough medicine won't make the illness go away any faster. If a child develops a sinus or ear infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics, but antibiotics will not help a common cold.

Know when to call the doctor. Check with your doctor if an infant under two months old develops a fever, or if a child of any age gets a fever of 102 or higher. Also seek medical attention if your child's breathing becomes labored or they start wheezing.