I'm at that age where pretty much all of my contemporaries either have kids or have buns in the ovens. That of course means lots of baby showers. Before I had a kid myself, a typical gift from me would have been lots of ridiculously cute, outrageously priced, and highly impracticable items of clothing (think designer baby trench coat, or super tiny leather purse). Now that I'm a mom, I know that when you have a newborn, it's all about survival. These days my gift-giving goal is to make sure that new parents have the essentials that will truly save them time, energy, and sanity.
Here's what I now give:
Burp cloths. You absolutely cannot have enough of these, because bodily fluids will be everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. I keep burp cloths stashed in every purse, in every room of the house, and even in my car. I don't even bother with the cute prints or fun colors at this point, because it's all going to end up covered in something thing foul.
Zip-up sleepers. Because no one wants to be fiddling with 70 miniature buttons while half asleep during a 2 a.m. diaper change. Baby pajamas with buttons are the devil.
Pacifiers. I know these are not for everyone, and are a bit controversial. I've even heard people go so far as to say they are for "lazy parents." Actually, it's just the opposite. They're for parents who want to burn some calories by leaping out of bed in the dead of night to pop one back into their restless baby's mouth. They definitely help my girl settle back to sleep, which is good for both of us.
A thermometer. You will be paranoid and you will use this way, way more often than necessary.
Amazon gift cards. Moms and Amazon Prime go together like wine and chocolate. You will run out of something very important, and you will find it impossible to pull yourself and your baby together for a trip to the store. Pretty sure the "buy with 1 click button" was invented for new parents.
Feel free to chime in with your favorite baby gifts to give and get in the comments.