About the only thing worse than trying to sleep when you have a cold is trying to sleep when your child has one ... because we all know if they aren't sleeping, you aren't sleeping. Luckily there are lots of ways to help ease their stuffy little noses and get them a decent night's sleep, so you can toddle off to dreamland yourself.
The first thing you should try is to elevate their head. This keeps all that mung from pooling in their heads and making them even more miserable. No need to stick your child in a chair for the night; just add a couple of pillows to their pile or stick a few thick books underneath the head of their mattress.
Use saline nose spray. They hate this -- at least the kids who live in my house do -- but it works to clear out a stuffy nose and help them breathe easier.
If that doesn't help, try a sinus rinse or neti pot. People swear by their ability to wash out even the grossest of clogged sinuses.
Snuggle them up with a cup of warm tea. Kids tend to like the taste of herbal tea, and the "bedtime" kinds have herbs like chamomile and peppermint that can make your child sleepy. Avoid black or green tea, which have caffeine and are thus counterproductive to the whole "getting sleep" thing. The warmth and steam help loosen mucus secretions and let their nose drain. Avoid warm milk or hot cocoa, though. Milk makes a lot of people more snotty, not less.
Use a humidifier. Just be sure you keep it scrupulously clean; otherwise, they spew mold and bacteria into the air along with misty water.
Have your child take a warm shower before bed. If your kid is too young to shower on their own, take them in the bathroom with you and run the shower on hot for about 10 minutes so the room fills with steam (stay with them to avoid them getting scalded). Breathing the warm, moist air will loosen up those secretions.
Watch their fluid intake. Keeping hydrated will help their body fight off the cold or flu that's making them stuffy, help them feel more comfortable, and avoid the nighttime cotton mouth.
And if all else fails, there's always an antihistamine. Ask you doctor about whether to use it and how much you should give. Assuming your doc gives the okay, it helps your child decongest and also makes them sleepy, which should ensure a few hours of rest for both of you.
How do you help your child sleep when he's all stuffed up and miserable?
Image via russteaches/Flickr