MUMS and babies are invited to join in a picnic in Bournemouth's Lower Gardens to highlight the campaign to give them the right to breastfeed in public places.

The event, from 12 noon to 4pm on Monday July 21 will coincide with similar picnics elsewhere in the country, including Parliament Square in London, Birmingham and Durham.

First time mother Sophie McInnes, a member of the Upton Bosom Buddies support group, explained: "There is a law in Scotland protecting hungry babies' right to be fed in public anywhere their mums choose, with no age limit, but no such law in England and Wales.

"The government seems to be proposing protection for babies up to six months, which isn't enough. Not all babies will take to the bottle, even if their mothers want to do that, and no-one likes to eat in a toilet."

Mid Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for children and families, said she hoped the right to breastfeed would be included in the new Equality Bill.

"I came across someone breastfeeding in a shopping centre toilet. That's a terrible reflection on society," she added.

"People feel pressurised to give up when it's made so difficult for them. Breastfeeding is natural, safe and healthy. It's so important that we encourage it. I think the picnic is an excellent idea and I'll go along if I'm invited."

In the UK, two per cent of babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months, in line with World Health Organisation recommendations.

And it has been estimated that a 10 per cent increase in breastfeeding rates would save the NHS £5.6 million a year on treating children with glue ear, ear infections and asthma.