For most of my life I was led to believe that Jesus was born in a barn. But now I'm not so sure because it appears to me that he wasn't. Nor does it appear to me that Mary was forced to shelter her baby in a stable due to the inn having no vacancy.
Here's how my mind was conditioned to think:
"She delivered her baby in a stable because there was no vacancy at the inn."
In point of fact, we're not told where Mary delivered; we're only told where she sheltered her baby.
"She laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."
What we're looking at there is a lack of adequate space for a new mom to tend her baby. Inns in those days usually didn't offer private rooms. They often consisted of a multiple occupancy space, i.e. something like a bunk house, but with no bunks.
Jesus' mom no doubt had brought along a bassinet because she was so close to delivery, but conditions in the inn during the taxation likely provided little opportunity for securing the infant's accouterments up off the floor. In other words: Mary herself chose a stable for sheltering little Jesus because it was safer.
The feed box was crude but actually a very suitable crib. It not only protected little Jesus from people stepping on him, but it's sturdy wood construction also prevented someone from accidentally bumping him over in the dark.
It would seem that Mary was not only a conscientious mom, but also a very practical girl.
There's an alternate scenario I think worth considering.
The Greek word translated "manger" also means "stall", for example:
• Luke 13:15 . . Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead him away to water?
So then, Luke 2:12 could be legitimately translated like this:
"This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a stall."
A stall would've provided Jesus' mom a measure of privacy during delivery.
Apparently Mary would've like to taken her new baby indoors after he was born but alas, the inn lacked adequate space at the time.