7 AM to 7 PM: How Shazi Visram of Healthybaby Embraces Unpredictability

family sitting on bed

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Parents don’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—we work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., from the moment our kids wake up until they go to sleep. This is an unfiltered look at a day in the life of Happy Family Organics and Healthybaby Founder Shazi Visram.

If you have a baby or a toddler in your home, chances are you already know about Shazi Visram. She’s the revolutionary founder of Happy Family Organics, a baby food company valued at over $1 billion. Her latest venture is Healthybaby, a brand focused on the healthy, safe development of a baby’s brain and body.

The company’s hero product is their diaper. It’s the first on the market certified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and meets strict ingredient safety requirements. The diapers are free of BPA, phthalates, parabens, chlorine, fragrance, and an additional 2,000+ potentially harmful ingredients.

“The reason why I care about diapers is that we all focus on everything that goes into our babies' bodies—and we should—but we don't necessarily think about what’s on them,” Visram says. “In the first three years of life, your brain is basically developing to about 80%. Your environment helps you become who you are. There are things that can be stressors in the environment—those could be toxins, chemicals, or stress.”

The things that our children are exposed to every day are the things that actually affect their health and well-being.

These stressors can be combated with things like love, attention, a deep connection, and creating a sense of safety for your child. “Everything you do with your child in those three years can be enriching and protecting and help them become their best self. And it just so happens that during that time, they're wearing diapers and they are wearing them 24/7. And we just don’t think about [the potentially harmful effects].”

Visram has made it her calling to not only help provide other parents with healthy, organic food for their babies but also to protect them from harmful chemicals that could cause a damaging neurological effect. “The things that our children are exposed to every day are the things that actually affect their health and well-being,” Visram adds.

Her mission to provide knowledge to other parents has stemmed from her son Zane’s autism diagnosis. “Having a child with autism is really challenging,” Visram says. “My son is pretty severely affected. He's 11. He was completely non-verbal until he was eight. He’s talking now. It's not super fluid, but he's really connected to us. I believe in him and I know that he's a genius.”

It's frustrating for Visram to see her son locked in a body that doesn’t allow him to express himself in an age-appropriate way. “On the flip side of that, every day, you never know what new novel, therapeutic intervention might be developed or some new science that is going to come to the table that can actually help him," she shares.

Visram works with a team of doctors and scientists and is on the board of several innovative companies, all with the mission of trying to help her son and help inform other parents. She’s carefully chosen a team around her to help nurture her family. It is vital that everyone on the team is on the same page.

“If you don't get consistency with everyone on the team, it confuses Zane,” Visram says. “For instance, if you're just learning how to talk and there are four people that call the garbage 'garbage' but one person calls it 'trash'—you would be confused. There are so many little details that we have to coordinate.”

The entrepreneur and investor lives in Connecticut with her husband Joe, son Zane, and daughter Asha, who is 5. After receiving her son’s autism diagnosis, Visram and her husband decided to have another baby to potentially help her son in the future. “I hope the best for him and I want him to live an independent life, but I really don't know and I like to prepare for anything," she says. "I said we should have another baby. Ideally because maybe one day she'd be there for him.”

It took the couple three years to conceive, which they eventually did through IVF. Visram followed an anti-inflammatory diet. She took steroids. She worked with an immunologist. “We did IVIG [intravenous immune globulin, which is IV fluids full of antibodies] every three weeks when I was pregnant,” Visram says. “I took more supplements than I thought possible.”

In making these sacrifices to help her son, she almost lost sight of the joy another baby could bring to her and her husband. “The whole time I was so obsessed with the idea of having someone for Zane and I didn't realize what a gift it was going to be to have this other little person,” Visram says. “She’s just so funny, cool, and smart. And it’s just so fun to be able to talk to her because I've never had that experience.”

Visram explains that it was an exciting milestone to watch her daughter blow out her first birthday candle—it had taken her son three years of occupational therapy to learn the same skill.

“I don't call him autistic,” Visram says of Zane. “We say that he has autism, because to us, autism is a collection of symptoms that, in some cases, can really improve when you address the core, the root.”

Visram continues: “I think that Zane’s autism is rooted in some level of trauma, anxiety, and fear. His body—he's constantly in fight or flight—so everything we do in our life is to try to support his level of comfort in his body so that he can express himself more. The more he can communicate, the fewer behaviors he has.”

She says that his autism was really exacerbated by the stress of COVID-19, but the silver lining has been that the family has found new ways to calm and relax him, especially during his bedtime routine. “You see these glimmers of this incredible little human being," she shares. "That's my angel. You'll do everything you can in the world to get those moments.”

Keep reading to see how Visram tries to find structure in unpredictable days, how she unwinds with a glass of wine, and why she goes to sleep at 3 a.m.

kid rock climbing

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Wednesday

7 a.m. Every morning, from about 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m, I have fresh juice and coffee in bed and I cuddle both of the kids. It’s cuddle time. We co-slept with my son for almost eleven years and now that he's about to start puberty, we have made a real concerted effort to get him sleeping in his own room.

It actually really grounds me to cuddle each of the kids and have some special time with them. We have two puppies too that I find to be very therapeutic. While I'm cuddling, I'm planning my day.

8 a.m. For the next two hours, I build in what I call “blue sky time” where I can be relaxed and creative and think about new things. Otherwise, I spend so much time reacting that I don't get to create. My blue sky time is between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. because it's usually before any major crisis has occurred.

It actually really grounds me to cuddle each of the kids and have some special time with them.

I will usually try to spend an hour of "blue sky time" kind of taking notes on who needs what and what their challenges might be. For instance, I'm on a number of boards. I'm on the board of Recycle Track Systems. This is a company that is revolutionizing the way we track waste. They actually put sensors on trucks and track how much from which companies are going straight into a landfill versus to a compost versus recycling. It's a way to improve how much waste we create and where it goes. If you track it, you can improve it. They're expanding and growing like gangbusters.

Depending on the day, I'm thinking about four other people's problems, give or take, and I find it to be really relaxing and helpful. When I can help someone else with their problems, it makes my world feel less stressful.

10 a.m. If I don’t do "blue sky time," I don't usually get out of bed until probably around 10 a.m.

Typically, I have a call with my team in the morning to check in and see if anyone needs me for anything specific. I have a really strong president at Healthybaby to help with the day-to-day. She's a genius. I feel very blessed to have her because it's really hard to have your head in the clouds and be visioning when you're also doing the daily work. I've gotten to a place in life where I have someone to help me with the daily blocking and tackling.

I've also realized that I need that same level of support at home. If I want to create meaningful goals and objectives for Zane, I need a tight-knit team that's all on the same page about how to get there. Having a son with autism has made me more organized around how I manage teams. I'm not a good manager. I've never been a good manager. I’ve been a creative. It's forced me to be a little bit more organized.

After the check-ins with my professional team and my home team, I spend about an hour and a half reading emails and deciding which ones I'm going to respond to. I make a list of things that I'm going to do today, this week, and then within the next month; it's how I hold myself accountable.

11:30 a.m. I’m generally not very structured given that I have a son with autism and every day is a new challenge, adventure, or a fire to put out. I just got a call from the school asking me or my husband to pick him up because he got really dysregulated and disrobed in front of his class, pulled his aide's hair, and was sitting in the window maniacally giggling.

I’m generally not very structured given that I have a son with autism and every day is a new challenge, adventure, or a fire to put out.

I don't have control over the calls I get from school. But the thing is, I would absolutely go completely insane if I didn't make productive use of all the things that I've learned that help and that could help other people. And so, while I go through some things that are pretty terrible, one of the things that I do on a regular basis is think, "How can I use this to help someone else? What can I do better next time?"

12:15 p.m. I do acupuncture every Wednesday. Besides hiding in the hyperbaric, it’s my thing.

1 p.m. I eat a bowl of soup. I'm lazy when it comes to chewing. I’m usually on the phone and talking. I like juice and soup. I drink a lot of my calories. This is just the way I am. I just don't get hungry until later. Honestly, I like to eat when I’m relaxed, and so usually during the day, I don't eat that much.

2 p.m. At this time, I'm usually recording an episode of my iHeart podcast, "The Healthy Baby Show," or I might be writing content for Healthybaby. We're creating a curriculum based on everything I have ever learned. I have neuroscientists and developmental pediatricians in my life, occupational therapists, and speech therapists, too. We're creating content to help other parents.

3 p.m. I spend an hour or two every day responding or contributing in one way or another to other entrepreneurs who are trying to make things happen. I’m a strategic advisor for the [breast pump company] Willow, as well as Lovevery, which is a developmental toy business. I don't have a set time for things. I just look at my schedule and if there are 12 things on it, I just roll through it and it's usually fine. Then in the middle of it, you might get a call from the school with some major crisis, and then I have to reschedule everything. The kids come first.

4:30 p.m. I really believe that the saying, "The five people you spend the most time with really help you define who you are," is true.

One of the things I try to do once a week in this craziness is to find one person who inspires me. I have a bunch of people in my orbit who are super inspiring and that keeps the lights on in my head.

6:30 p.m. For the next hour, we're together as a family. And if that means watching Netflix or eating a pizza, whatever. Now it's getting cold, but it used to be our swimming pool time where the whole family comes together.

Everybody has different dietary needs in my house. I don't cook because I just can't make everyone happy.

We have a caregiver for my son, who's very specific about his diet. I believe part of his healing is based on having his diet be really solid. He has sensory needs as well. There are certain things that Asha would love to eat, but Zane will never touch them because it's mushy and it makes him gag. So, it's kind of tough. But for the most part, our whole family is gluten-free, dairy-free, and follows an anti-inflammatory diet. Dinner is sort of a free-for-all, but it's generally a healthy free-for-all. There might be like nine things in the fridge and we pull out eight of them and everyone's cooking something different.

I’m such a freak about their food, but what's funny is, if I make it myself, it stresses me out. And I think that whoever is making your food needs to do it with love. I don't want to add any stress, but, if I see a strawberry in the house and it's not organic, I get really mad. The Environmental Working Groups Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen are real! I'm really involved with how we choose what comes into the house. But I'm not great at preparing food. I'm not going to pretend that I am.

I'm really involved with how we choose what comes into the house. But I'm not great at preparing food. I'm not going to pretend that I am.

7 p.m. I do a bubble bath with Asha with our Healthybaby bubble bath. It's so awesome. It's a cleaning concentrate and one bottle makes enough for 200 baths.

Zane is starting to go through puberty, so I'm having to distance myself from my baby. Joe is more active with Zane stuff now. Zane and I are so lovey-dovey, but he's confused about these feelings in his body. And of course, I don’t want that. It's confusing for me, too. I have some support on how to handle this but a lot of folks say that it's time for mom to step back and for dad to be more of a part of the routine.

Zane does a nightly Epsom salt soak, which is really detoxifying, then he does infrared sauna for 20 minutes, and then he does his bath. Next, we do pedaling, which really stimulates and it really calms his nervous system down.

After the bath, Zane and Asha do a fine motor activity, like Connect Four. It calms the brain down. 

A lot of times, Asha and I will do a puzzle. She falls asleep a bit earlier and then we spend a little more time doing therapeutic exercises with Zane. I say goodnight to Asha and she sleeps alone in her room, which is incredible.

We have a whole routine to get Zane to sleep in this little tent in his room where he feels really comfortable and secure. He has a weighted blanket and we all say goodnight. Ideally, he stays in there the whole night. But usually, he wakes up around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. and finds me. It's funny because it's usually right when I'm about to go to sleep.

That happened last night. I was going to sleep around 2:45 a.m. and he came in at 3 a.m. and then he was up until 4 a.m.

9 p.m. Around this time, I'm trying to relax. I like my nightly glass of wine. I'm really into red wine. We have a cool wine cellar. We try to make it a thing to try something new pretty often.

I really love films and movies. I’m trying to read more lately. I used to love reading so much and then I started downloading books on my iPad and I realized that I just don't like reading that way. I think it's so much more fun to actually read a book. Right now, I'm reading the latest Eve Rodsky book, "Find Your Unicorn Space."

My brain just doesn't turn off. I need to be distracted by something that's not stressful. I like being engaged in learning something. I like documentaries.

So usually for a couple of hours, Joe and I are unwinding. I sketch a lot and I take a lot of notes. The key is, I get it all out of my head and then it allows me to relax. Then during my morning cuddles, I look at all those notes and I think, okay, these are the things that are important, that was a crazy idea—leave that one alone—and that's when I kind of edit. I also do guided meditations before bed.

I've had insomnia ever since I was 16—it's just the way my brain works. I'm involved in so many things and I really care. I think about things. It's probably not the best example, to talk about how someone doesn’t separate their personal life from their work life. But my whole life is everything. It's both. It's all connected.

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Verywell / Christian Alzate

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