MALE caretakers are are joining teaching assistants and other staff on compulsory courses about breast feeding.

The move, designed to educate all children's centre staff on things such as bottled milk temperatures, has been branded "crazy political correctness" by a leading education group.

But council bosses have defended the decision to make it obligatory for employees to take the Blackburn Primary Care Trust course.

They said it was important staff at its 14 children centres could deliver the "best care" to visiting mums.

Blackburn with Darwen Council governs 13 children's centres, which include nurseries health, family support and childcare.

The council confirmed it was "working towards all children's centre staff, no matter what their role or job title, attending a breast feeding awareness course."

Dozens of workers have been signed up for the one to two day course to ensure they understand the benefits of breastfeeding to both mum and baby, and any issues around it.

The free course also provides participants with information on things like how to make up a bottle, sterilisation, storage and appropriate weaning.

Michelle Atkin, from Blackburn-based Little Angels Breastfeeding Support group, which is among those being drafted in to deliver the course, said it was important for both sexes.

"People who directly deal with mothers will likely take a two-day course learning anything from the best position for the baby on the breast, the benefits of breast feeding and what support groups there are.

"But for people like caretakers they will likely just learn the basics such as pointing mothers in the right direction of who to speak to, ensuring they can have privacy if they need it.

"They will also be able to avoid any situation of embarrassment such as telling a mother I'm sorry but you shouldn't be doing that' which can affect a mum's confidence."

But the Campaign For Real Education blasted the policy.

Chairman Nick Seaton said: "It is ridiculous and very embarrassing for someone like a caretaker to have to go through. They should be concentrating on the educating the people who use the nurseries."

But Mrs Atkin said critics were missing the point. "It is an issue that will effect us all whether you are a caretaker or work in a cafe it is likely at some point they (their partners) will have a baby and it is important to know the benefits of breastfeeding.

"Why shouldn't men learn about it? The men are fathers."

The course is part of Blackburn Prim-ary Care Trusts push for Unicef's Baby Friendly' accrediat-ion.