the only way our children can get over being sick is if their little bodies can rest.... if they can't breathe and are coughing their lungs up all the time, they can't rest! i've always given nyquil or dimetapp (cold and cough or cold and allergy) or benadryl to both my girls starting from about 12 months old. i can't remember the dosing for that age, but if you call your doctor and explain that you want to give it to him at night so he can sleep, they can tell you the proper dose.
what makes the cold medicines "unsafe" is parents who overdose their kids because they can't figure out the proper dose, or give it too often. a good safety rule is to only give it once, and give it at bedtime. if you think they really need a second dose, look at the higher number of hours between doses and add two.... that probably made no sense.... like if it says every 4 hours, wait 6 hours to give a second dose, or if it says every 4-6 hours, wait 8 hours.... and then don't give anymore!
anyway, like you, i don't want to get into the whole debate.... just wanted to reassure you that it's not the medication itself that makes it unsafe for babies, it's when the kids are given too much!
i'm not sure exactly what they mean when they say the medicines "don't work." of course the medicines won't cure
the cold, but i haven't met a child yet (of any age) whose cold SYMPTOMS aren't at least temporarily relieved with cold medicine!
point is, i absolutely use cold medicines on my kids (ages 2 and 4). in fact, they both currently have colds and i just went out and bought a whole new round of cold meds (the ones we had were expired) for them!