June 03, 1991 12:00 PM

Various artists

When a 5-year-old finds a favorite record, the rest of the family has to hear it about 2,000 times a week. Now—at long last!—there is some relief for those adults who want to introduce the youngsters to music but have to resort to nonstop vacuuming in order to drown out Raffi singing “Willoughby Wallabee Woo.”

For Our Children, with 20 lullabies and slaphappy songs performed by Sting, Debbie Gibson, Elton John, Paul McCartney, James Taylor and other pop luminaries, may be the first children’s record that can withstand endless repetition. The singers picked a batch of sweet, G-rated melodies that will almost appeal equally to adults, babies and preschoolers. But, avoiding the condescending style that pervades so many children’s records, this one is also hip and very entertaining.

At a time when kids need a lot of encouragement in order to develop some idealism, Ziggy Marley’s bouncy opening song, “Give a Little Love,” offers a message about kindness. Little Richard’s rappy version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” gives that old arachnid reason to hop anew. Meryl Streep, perhaps in training for the Iron Woman Entertainment Triathlon, sings the sweet “Gar-tan Mother’s Lullaby.”

There are a few odd numbers. Paula Abdul should have done a disco romp for kids instead of her shaky rendition of the snoozer “Good Night My Love (Pleasant Dreams).” Bob Dylan, who brings his usual eccentricity to a deadpan “This Old Man,” may be above (or beneath) the interest of most prepubescents, and kids may lack the attention span to enjoy Barbra Streisand’s slow “A Child Is Born.”

Otherwise the album is nearly flawless. All but four tracks were recorded just for this release, from which all record-company profits will go to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. An awareness of the cause clearly inspired some performances—they radiate warmth and what sounds like genuine love. (Walt Disney)”

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