When my kids start showing signs of a cold I give them Elderberry Syrup. I make mine at home, but you can buy it at a health food store. If their ears seem to be bothering them I take a small piece of garlic, wrap it in toilet paper, and set it in their ear (not shoved down in there, but resting on the inside) for 15-20 minutes. The garlic will kill the infection and pull out any pain. It's worked everytime. The trick is keeping them distracted while they let that sit in their ear.
Those are all really great ideas, that's what we do for our little girls!