When I had my daughter I decided to create a "Gift List" online that we shared on social media. This list contained stuff we needed and that was for some quite expensive. I though people will be kind enough to have a look at it or at least ask us what we needed for our little one. Well... I was wrong... People seem to care less about if their present will be useful than if they like it. Most of them will offer you something they like rather than something you need.
Don't get me wrong, I was really impressed to see people's generosity. Some neighbors were leaving bags in our front porch without ringing the bell to not disturb us and we were finding the presents the day after. The postman was delivering us a parcel per days for two weeks... Baby Rose has been spoiled! I cried, I was so touched... However, we received a lot of item we did not use or she could not wear and I found it really frustrated. We received no less than 9 blankets, she was born in December and some clothes would not match the season. Like little cute summer dress in 3 months or winter vest in size 6-9 months...
My first tip is, if you go for clothes, make sure you chose the correct size. Consider the age of the baby and the season. If you go for summer outfit, make sure you pick the size baby will be next summer. So why not go for for a lovely card and and a VOUCHER for your favorite kid's clothing shop? Mum will be happy to spend it in clothes she needs and fit baby.
I have to say that BOOKS will be a perfect gift for me. I love books and I hope my little one will do too, even if for now she loves chewing them. So a fabric book is a perfect gift. It's a gift that will be kept and use by baby for a while. Baby can play with it by himself and adults can also show him/her how to turn the page and read the story or talk about the image... It's a great introduction of literature to the little ones and quality time spent together. You can also think about "high contrast" books. Baby's vision is blurry and limited when they are born. The first thing that will catch their eyes are contrast around 3-4 months. I particularly love the book range of Little Ones. They have inspirational books, fabric or musical ones, books with texture... They are great.
FOOD. Yes, food! In the first weeks of baby's life parents still needs to eat but won't have much time or energy to treat themselves. All their life will turn about their little human. So bring them something nice that they can put in the freezer, like COOKIE DOUGH. I've done that in my last weeks of pregnancy and I was really happy later to find this treat in the freezer. Add some extra chocolate chunks or sweet like M&MS, nuts... to make them even yummier. Once you made your dough, roll it in a plastic foil like a big sausage (a "saucisson"). When the parents will want them, they will just have to cut slices and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. You can also make "ready made soup" bags. Peel and cut veggies of your choice and put them in a zip bag with spices like salt, pepper, curcuma... The bag will go to the freezer too and mum & dad will just have to boil the content of the bag in water for 20 minutes and will have a nice and healthy soup ready.
Join your forces for BIG STUFF. If you are few siblings offering a present for the same new born, why not go for the big stuff like a crib, a prawn, the car seat...? Preparing for baby's arrival cost a lot of money. So if you can help with some of big items, do it. The parents will thank you and what you buy will be really useful and last.
Finally, I would say, respect the parent's choices. Do not impose yourselves or your vision of parenting to them. Ask the new parents what they are missing for baby. They will be happy to help you find a gift that will be useful.