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If the headlights are tungsten, the startup current can be five to ten times higher than the nominal 3.5 A.

This is a common issue with pumps, fans, tungsten lights and other loads with a high startup current when using an inexpensive DC/DC to replace lead-acid.

One possible solution is to add a battery and use the DC/DC as a charger.
 

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The parallel setup is OK. Bigger battery = especially high discharge rated (thicker plates)?

Now a 4 or 6Ah gel I presume? Not enough.
If low temps are taken into consideration I'd say at least 20Ah high discharge.
 
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