As you may recall, the Food and Drug Administration already banned the sale of cough and cold medications intended for children under age two. At the same time, concern was raised about using these products for children under age six–but no action was taken on that.
In response to these concerns, manufacturers of over the counter cough and cold medications are changing their product labels–we view this as a step in the right direction! The labels used to say, "for children under age six, consult your doctor." Now the labels will say that the product is not intended for use in children under four years of age. (Okay, not perfect, but it's progress.)
The labels will also specifically call out the active ingredients in the medication to reduce the chance of overdoses. Using single symptom products (antihistamine only, for example) are ok. Using single symptom products at the same time as using combination products (that contain antihistamines, decongestants, and cough suppressants) can be a recipe for an overdose.
Here is a way to know what you are actually taking/giving your child:
Common antihistamines: chlorpheniramine, brompheniramine, loratidine, cetirizine, diphenhydramine
Common decongestants: pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine
Common cough meds: dextromethorphan, guaifenisin
Personally, I have never been a huge fan of these products. None of them work very well, and some can give you unwanted side effects–like insomnia! I'd rather have a snotty sleeping baby than a snotty awake one. I prefer to use saline nose drops (can't overdose on those), a humidifier, and maybe some chicken soup. And of course, lots of TLC.